Buccaneers running back Rachaad White got fingers pointing

The Buccaneers’ young running back tandem has an arrow pointing up.

Despite winning the NFC South Division title for three straight seasons, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished dead last in the NFL in terms of rushing in 2023, so they know what the floor looks like when it comes to running backs.

They may now have the opportunity to observe how the other half lives.

Prior to the 2024 season, Trevor Sikkema of PFF ranked Tampa Bay’s running backs No. 20 out of 32 clubs in their position group. Although they finished much better than where they did the previous season, that puts them well ahead of where they could finish in the league.

“Rachaad White quietly generated the eighth-best PFF wins above average figure among running backs last season (0.16),” Sikkema wrote. “Though his yards per carry average was below 4.0 for the second year in a row, he amassed 900-plus rushing yards and 500-plus receiving yards as an all-purpose back. The Buccaneers drafted Bucky Irving in the fourth round, a player with a similar skill set. I am bullish on this young running back duo in 2024.”

Sikkema ranked the San Francisco 49ers and 2023 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Christian McCaffrey at No. 1. Other NFC South teams were the No. 5 Atlanta Falcons, No. 22 New Orleans Saints and No. 27 Carolina Panthers.

White Laser-Focused on Yards Per Carry in 2024

Sikkema’s criticism of White’s yards-per-carry average is something he’s heard before and something he’s laser-focused on headed into 2024 — in fact he knows it’s the difference between good and great running backs.

“Right now, I’m not where I want to be in my career yards per carry-wise and things like that — just being an efficient running back,” White said when the Buccaneers opened offseason workouts on April 16. “I think, for me, that’s (what) the biggest next step is, ‘OK, he’s efficient.’ The efficient running backs over the (course) of time — like I said, I study the game a lot — they average at least 4.0-4.1 (yards per carry) and above.”

White finished 2023 with 1,539 all-purpose yards — 990 rushing and 549 receiving — and 9 touchdowns. As the Buccaneers caught fire down the stretch and won five of their last six regular season games, White had over 100 yards of total offense in three consecutive games in wins over the Panthers, Faclons and Green Bay Packers and scored touchdowns in back-to-back games for the only time in 2023.

Irving Adds Dynamic Dimension to Offense

Irving was a third-round pick who, like White, starred in college at a Pac-12 school — White at Arizona State and Irving at Oregon. In an interesting twist, Irving had 1,593 yards of total offense in 2023, which was almost exactly White’s total. Irving also scored 13 touchdowns.

Irving’s size — 5-foot-9 and 192 pounds — and 4.55-second 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine may have caused his draft stock to fall a little bit.

The Buccaneers were happy to snatch him up.

According to Mike Biehl, director of player personnel for Tampa Bay, “we thought (Irving) might go a little bit earlier.” “.. He drops to the third day, which surprised us since we believed he might be a second-day choice. I believe that even after speaking with him, he still harbored resentment at Jason (Licht), believing that he ought to have left sooner. That is kind of what we enjoy. He’s simply another individual with the appropriate kind of character that we’ve been pursuing. He is a perfect fit for that type.


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