The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. Their team is loaded with veteran talent at key positions, making it difficult for rookies to make an immediate impact on the squad. However, that does not mean it is impossible. There are several rookies from the Bucs’ 2022 draft class who should make their presence felt immediately.
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Defensive tackle Logan Hall will be asked to play a huge role, but he is not exactly a sleeper as Tampa Bay’s top draft pick. Instead, running back Rachaad White will be the most surprising rookie contributor. The Arizona State product will make an immediate impact as a rookie for a number of reasons.
With that said, we present Rachel White as the Buccaneers’ rookie sleeper for the 2022 NFL season.
Buccaneers rookie sleeper for the 2022 NFL season
There is a clear path to playing time for White, even though he was just selected in the third round. Fellow running back Leonard Fournette will hold down the starting job, but that’s not too big of a deal. Fournette is a notoriously poor pass-catcher, an area that excels in White.
The Buccaneers were the most pass-heavy offense in the NFL last season, throwing the ball a whopping 731 times during the season. Former Buc Ronald Jones II handled a lot of passing work for Tampa Bay in 2021, but he is now a Kansas City Chief. There is plenty of passing-down work that White will absorb as a rookie, and that will give him a chance to shine.
The rest of Tampa Bay’s depth at running back is uninspiring. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, a former third-rounder himself, has made absolutely no impact during his two seasons as a pro. Giovani Bernard played decently last season, but he’s on the wrong side of 30 as a running back.
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It’s likely that White is the best overall backup on this team, and that should see him handling third-down duties at the very least. An injury to Fournette would make the starting job to White, making his potential impact even greater. Overall, White’s workload will allow him the opportunity to make a big impact as a first-year player.
The running back position usually transitions smoothly from the college ball to the NFL, a factor that will greatly benefit White. There have been several late-round or undrafted running backs who made an immediate impact in the NFL recently. Elijah Mitchell of the San Francisco 49ers came into the league as a sixth-round selection and started immediately. James Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars is an undrafted free agent who is a quality starter. Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is regarded as one of the best running backs in the league, and he was taken in the sixth round.
It’s clear that the jump from college football to the NFL isn’t that big for running backs. That means White should transition fairly smoothly to the pro level.