It was a long wait for Sean Tucker, but the former Syracuse Orange running back ended up not getting his named called in the NFL draft. He’ll still start his pro journey after signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent.
I am #PL34SED to be a Buccaneer! pic.twitter.com/xro9Y0PTqB— Sean Tucker (@seantucker2020) April 30, 2023
The Bucs get a record-breaking running back who burst onto the scene in Central New York as Syracuse’s primary running back in 2020 during his true freshman year. Tucker battled the bottleneck of the depth chart to stamp his name on the team sheet and he responded in kind with a historic 2021 season. Tucker set the new Syracuse single-season record for rushing yards with 1,496, breaking Joe Morris’s record that stood for 42 years.
Syracuse’s drought of not having a running back taken continues. The last Orange running back drafted was Delone Carter when he went in the 4th round to the Indianapolis Colts in 2011.
Tucker finished his Syracuse career with 3,182 rushing yards, good for third all-time in program history. And the unique rushing style that he brought to the Salt City made him an instant favorite. A former track athlete, Tucker used his speed to find a hole and hit it hard. His one-cut running style created downhill speed that made it hard for defenders to catch up once in the open field.
It’s hard to find running backs with the same speed and physical presence as Tucker, but he isn’t without his drawbacks. In a pass-heavy NFL, running backs need to assist in pass protection, and Tucker’s blocking left something to be desired. While Tucker also showed more involvement in the receiving game also, his hands weren’t always the most consistent. To be fair to him, that factor is not all on him.
The biggest red flag on Tucker’s resume is an undisclosed medical condition that prevent him from participating at the NFL scouting combine and at Syracuse’s pro day. He was cleared in time to hold a private pro day on April 24, just days before the draft.
The hope is that Tucker’s medicals are clear enough that he can stick on Tampa Bay’s roster.
How did we do with our TNIAAM Draft Prediction?:
Unfortunately, a swing and a miss:
Kevin: The hope for Tucker to be a high pick seems to be fading away, but as teams seek value from later round running backs, he could land in a favorable spot for playing time. New England has four 6th round picks and a need for more explosive offensive players. Tucker won’t be an every-down back but even at pick 192 he’ll land in a place where he not only makes the roster, he gets some touches each week.
Mike: An overlooked part of our neighbors to the west is their lack of a real ground game (outside of Josh Allen’s scrambling ability). The Bills have more pressing issues but by the late 6th round, a consistent up-field runner who can also catch passes in bunches should be appealing. It’s a boom-or-bust type pick, the real value of which we’ll find out quickly, but that’s the kind of risk a Super Bowl contender can’t be afraid to take at pick 205.
Dom: Late-round running backs are trending on the up-and-up, and I’d keep an eye out on teams who rely on a “running back by committee” philosophy over one ball-dominant back. Kansas City would be a pretty fun fit with Tucker.
Congrats to Sean and good luck in the pros!