3 sleeper prospects Buccaneers must target in 2024 NFL Draft

The Buccaneers need to be all over these under-the-radar NFL draft prospects.

Zach Frazier (West Virginia), Christian Haynes (UConn), Spencer Rattler (South Carolina) in action around a Buccaneers logo and a 2024 NFL Draft background.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have several gaps on their roster that must be addressed during the 2024 NFL draft. In order to address all of their needs, the Bucs will have to get creative and find sleeper prospects who are flying under the radar. Let’s take a look at Tampa Bay’s most glaring weaknesses and find some under-the-radar prospects for the Buccaneers to keep their eye on during this year’s draft.

What holes do the Buccaneers need to address?

The Bucs have two primary areas where they need to improve their roster going into the 2024 NFL season. First, they need to address their offensive line, particularly the interior positions. The Buccaneers front office must add at least one center and one guard with the upside to be a starter, and they could also benefit from adding depth at these positions as well.

The second position group the Bucs need to improve is edge rusher. They don’t have many players who can pressure the quarterback, and nobody is good enough to strike fear into defensive coordinators.

C/OG Zach Frazier, West Virginia

West Virginia Mountaineers offensive lineman Zach Frazier (54) during the first quarter against the Towson Tigers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
The first sleeper candidate that Tampa Bay should target in this year’s draft is Zack Frazier, a 6-foot-3 interior line prospect from West Virginia who weighs in at 310 pounds. Frazier can play both guard positions as well as center, which makes him incredibly valuable to a team that struggles all along the interior of their line.

Frazier is extremely physical in the run game, boasting aggressiveness and the nasty demeanor that teams will fall in love with. When it comes to pass blocking, he’s incredibly patient and waits for the defensive player to make a move before committing. This makes it difficult to get him off balance and helps Frazier hold his own in any matchup.

The West Virginia product has excellent technique and consistently wins the pad-level battle. While he doesn’t have elite height or weight measurements, his ability to consistently gain a leverage advantage puts him in a position to stonewall the pass rusher and keep his quarterback upright.

OG Christian Haynes, Connecticut

After adding Frazier, the Bucs should not be done adding to their offensive line. Christian Haynes could be an excellent prospect to target in the fourth or fifth round. Haynes is an incredibly instinctive player, and his football IQ improves other areas of his game. Haynes always knows his assignment and has an excellent understanding of where everybody else is on the field at a given time. He also has impeccable footwork, which gives him a leverage advantage most of the time.

UConn is not known for developing elite football prospects, and this reputation is likely to hurt Haynes’ draft position. He’s not getting a ton of buzz and will likely fall outside of the top hundred and fifty picks.

The former Husky is a physical player who excels in both run blocking and pass blocking. In the ground game, he’s an incredibly aggressive blocker who fights through to the second level and finishes his blocks with aggression. In the passing game, Haynes doesn’t excellent job of maintaining his balance and protecting the integrity of the pocket for his quarterback.

Haynes doesn’t have elite athleticism, and this could hurt him against the premier defensive tackles at the pro level. His average athletic profile and measurements won’t do him any favors in the draft process, and he’ll likely fall to the middle rounds. He can be a rotational player with the potential to be a starter, which is excellent value for the middle rounds of the draft.

EDGE Xavier Thomas, Clemson

Xavier Thomas is a smaller edge rusher who wins with speed and short area burst. The Clemson product needs to do a better job of keeping his pad level low, but he has the natural bend and speed to get around almost any blocker. Thomas will be at a size disadvantage in most matchups, but if an NFL strength program can help him add a few pounds without losing his athleticism, he could turn into an impact player. His pad-level issues can be fixed with coaching.

More so than his pad level, Thomas’ lack of strength is likely to knock him down into the middle rounds of this year’s draft. if the Bucks believe they can help him put on some way without losing his natural speed and athleticism, he’s a player Tampa Bay should target with one of their picks on the second or third day of the draft.

Bonus prospect: QB Spencer Rattler, South Carolina

A fourth sleeper candidate the Buccaneers could target would be South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler. A few years ago, Rattler was viewed as the next big thing when he stepped onto the campus at the University of Oklahoma.

However, while Rattler showed moments of brilliance, he was never quite able to fulfill the promise that surrounded him. He has a howitzer on his right shoulder and has always been gifted with elite arm talent. The former top prospect can make any throw, including the passes that you wouldn’t even expect a lesser quarterback to attempt. He’s the ultimate “No … No … YES” type of player.

After being benched in favor of phenom Caleb Williams, Rattler transferred from Oklahoma and began to rebuild his collegiate career away from the headlines at the University of South Carolina. He’s done an excellent job of rebuilding himself into a legitimate NFL prospect, but it’s unlikely he will be picked before the middle of the second round. Rattler may fall to the third or even the fourth round.

Depending on how the draft board shakes out, it would be worth it for Tampa Bay’s front office to keep its eyes on Rattler as they might be able to get a franchise quarterback at a discount. That would be the ultimate draft coup and would fast-track Tampa Bay back to contender status.

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