One quick glance at the Bucs’ draft classes over the last few years paints an interesting picture of where the team is finding its talent. While the perennial powerhouses are always producing top-tier NFL talent, Tampa Bay has – coincidentally or not – built several pipelines with some less-traditional collegiate programs.

“I think some of it is coincidence and I think some of it is, if you talk about Washington, that’s a great program,” vice president of player personnel John Spytek said Saturday. “Those kids come out of there well trained, they’re good people, they’re our kind of people.”

The Bucs kept their Washington connection strong in the 2022 Draft, selecting tight end Cade Otton in the fourth round. He joins a roster that features three former Washington standouts. Vita Vea, Benning Potoa’e and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka are all former Huskies who have joined the Bucs within the last five years.

Otton said Saturday that he thinks how well those three players have fit with the Bucs played a role in him becoming the fourth former Washington player on the team.

“It’s amazing to join some of my former teammates,” he said. “I think it says a lot about them that the Bucs trusted me, with how well they’ve done there and how big of a part of the culture they’ve been.”

Bucs’ College Pipelines Extend Beyond Washington

Minnesota TE Ko Kieft Bucs

Minnesota TE Ko Kieft – Photo by: USA Today

It isn’t just Washington that Tampa Bay is consistently drawing from, though. After last weekend, the Bucs have now selected two Houston players in the last two drafts. They’ve picked two Central Michigan products in the last four years as well. Plus, their selection of tight end Ko Kieft brings their total of Minnesota draft picks to three in the last three years.

The team’s recent draft history is also full of players from Auburn and LSU. Though the Bucs didn’t draft any former Auburn players in this year’s class, they did add another one from LSU in the form of seventh-round pick Andre Anthony.

“Some (of) it’s coincidence, but it does speak to something. You watch college football, the good programs continue to put out good players year after year after year. And it’s not just because they’re talented,” Spytek said Saturday. “It’s because there’s something else that they do (to) develop the kids there that plays (in the NFL). We’ve been fortunate with that with the schools that we keep plucking them from. And we intend to keep doing that as long as those programs keep doing that.”

Bucs’ Draft Habits Set Up Reunions For Former Teammates

Because Tampa Bay continues to add talent from some of the same college programs, former teammates are about to enjoy reunions at the professional level. Second-round pick Logan Hall already had his first reunion with former Houston teammate Grant Stuard. The two ran into each other at the team’s facility when Hall was on his Top 30 visit in April.

Beyond Hall and Stuard, second-round pick Luke Goedeke will once again be teammates with Sean Murphy-Bunting. Their Central Michigan careers overlapped in 2018, when Goedeke was on the scout team and Murphy-Bunting was starring on the first-team defense.

Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr.

Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr. – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

In the case of Kieft, he has former Minnesota teammates Antoine Winfield, Jr. and Tyler Johnson in Tampa, which he thinks will be key in helping him adjust to the NFL.

“I think it’ll be a great help. Those are two stand-up guys,” Kieft said. “Those two are two great players, two great friends that I’ve known for the last six years. So, it’ll be a big help for me. I’m just looking forward to seeing those guys again.”

The reunions on the field are going to be just as intriguing as those off the field. As a tight end, Otton would regularly square off with Tryon-Shoyinka, an edge rusher, on the practice fields at Washington. And soon, they’ll meet again on the fields at Tampa Bay’s AdventHealth Training Center.

“Joe’s a great friend of mine. We had a lot of battles in practice,” Otton said. “I’m really looking forward to getting with him again and having more battles. And then getting to be on the same team again is super awesome.”

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1 month ago

Has to be a big plus for these new guys coming into the organization to be able to reach out to old teammates and get feedback on what to expect and how to be best prepared to start their new careers.

Reply to  gcolerick
1 month ago

The friendly faces with certainly make their pro transition easier…

1 month ago

Now it’s time to get the Brady-Gronk reunion going again! Come on Gronk, one more year. Then you bask in the sun a richer man, hopefully with some new hardware!

1 month ago

I’ve always been a little curious about the area scouts and how much influence each has over the ultimate selection. I wonder if Jason Licht favors one opinion over another or if any have a stronger voice at the round table.