ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. grades the Bucs’ 2024 NFL draft class

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added seven new players in the 2024 NFL draft, filling some of their biggest needs and bolstering their depth on both sides of the ball.

Every media outlet is already passing initial judgement on each team’s 2024 draft class, and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is a fan of what the Bucs did this past weekend.

Kiper had high praise for first-round pick Graham Barton, and sees potential in second-rounder Chris Braswell:

The Bucs had a balanced first two days of the draft. Graham Barton (26) is my top-ranked center, and he’ll immediately help a run game that ranked 32nd in yards per attempt (3.4) last season. While he played left tackle at Duke, he has All-Pro upside at the pivot. Chris Braswell (57) has been underrated for the past few months. The edge rusher isn’t the flashiest player, but he is an all-around defender with an interesting skill set as a pass-rusher. Tampa Bay has to get better on the edge in 2024.

Grabbing Jalen McMillan in the third round was Kiper’s favorite pick that Tampa Bay made in the entire draft, but he was a bit cooler on the Bucs’ other earlier selections:

Wideout Jalen McMillan (92) was a steal at the end of Round 3. He could be an outstanding No. 3 receiver as a rookie before taking on a bigger role in 2025. Tykee Smith (89) went about a round earlier than I thought he would. At 5-foot-10, he’s undersized, but he does have some versatility. It sounds like the Bucs will play him in the slot. Running back Bucky Irving (125) won’t blow away defenders with his speed, but he can make quick cuts between the tackles.

McMillan is my favorite prospect in Tampa Bay’s class, but Barton should step in and be a top-10 center as a rookie. The Bucs got better this weekend.

Time will tell if Kiper’s opinion on Tampa Bay’s selections lines up with their eventual on-field impact for the Bucs, but for now, he’s clearly high on what the team added at key positions.

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire