Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Bucs Midseason Rookie Report Card: Day Three Edition


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By Joshua Queipo

Recently we covered the Bucs “Day Two” rookies and how they have performed about half-way through the season. Now we will take a look at the later round editions the team made earlier this year.

Most teams are looking for situational players and special teams ace’s when they start selecting on the third day of the draft. Every so often a team will take a swing on a toolsy prospect who has the athleticism to be an eventual starter but lacks the resume to be confident they can step into that role right away. The Bucs looked for a little bit of each with their day three picks this year. Let’s check in and see how those players have looked through almost the first half of their rookie years.

TE Ko Kieft

Sixth round sensation. Cult hero. Ginger icon. What other platitudes can we put on the no-nonsense blocking badass out of Minnesota? I would argue we can add one more. How about play maker? Kieft was immediately heralded for his ability to put defenders on their backsides as soon as the Bucs selected him in the sixth round. And he has delivered on that hype. Kieft has been a plus pass blocker, registering a 78.8 PFF grade in that area on the season. He has been more inconsistent as a run blocker, although the Bucs offense requires so much of him in both assignment and usage where he is often required to take on large defensive ends in formations where the run is being advertised like a Geico commercial.

That is why it has been a breath of fresh air to see Kieft’s usage become less predictable over the last three weeks. Over that time period Kieft has been in on 49 snaps. 25 of them have been runs to 24 passes. This is a stark contrast to the previous five weeks where only 21 of his 74 offensive snaps were pass plays. And Kieft has come up with some big catches in these situations. After catching only 12 passes over four years in college, Kieft already has three catches for 46 yards early in his rookie season.

Kieft has added to that offensive play with good special teams reps as well. Kieft has six special teams tackles over 123 snaps on coverage unit that has been solid overall.

Kieft isn’t the second coming of Rob Gronkowski, but he is proving to be a capable number two or three tight end who can effectively block and has surprisingly good hands.

That could mean a ten-year career of being a solid contributor in the NFL. Not bad for a sixth round pick.

Overall Grade: B

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