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Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers think they have one of the NFL’s elite running backs in Rachaad White — it’s just everyone else who needs some convincing.

White was ranked No. 26 in a list of the NFL’s top running backs by PFF’s Thomas Valentine on May 27, signaling that the third-year Tampa Bay player still has work to do if he wants to be considered one of the very best at his position.

The Buccaneers’s 82.9 rushing yards per game over the last two seasons ranks them last in the NFL over that time.

“White doubled his total yards from scrimmage from 771 yards to 1,539 in 2023, but his efficiency on the ground dropped to 3.6 yards per attempt,” Valentine wrote. “Despite that, White was a big factor in the Buccaneers’ offense, earning a 67.6 grade. Like (James) Cook, the second-year pro made an impact in the passing game, catching 64 passes for 549 yards, and will continue to be a primary facet of the Buccaneers’ offense.”

Valentine put San Francisco 49ers‘ running back Christian McCaffrey in the No. 1 spot on his list. A pair of NFC South rivals in Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (No. 5) and New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (No. 21) were both also ranked ahead of White.

White Came Close to Breakout Season in 2023

The Buccaneers drafted White in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft (No. 91 overall) out of Arizona State after he earned All-Pac-12 honors in 2021.

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White finished 2023 with 1,539 all-purpose yards — 990 rushing and 549 receiving — and 9 touchdowns, which was a big leap from his 771 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns as a rookie.

“Right now, I’m not where I want to be in my career yards per carry-wise and things like that — just being an efficient running back,” White said when the Buccaneers opened offseason workouts on April 16. “I think, for me, that’s (what) the biggest next step is, ‘OK, he’s efficient.’ The efficient running backs over the (course) of time — like I said, I study the game a lot — they average at least 4.0-4.1 (yards per carry) and above.”

When the Buccaneers turned things on at the end of the season and won 5 of 6 games to close out the regular season, White was as good as almost any running back in the NFL.

In that stretch, White had over 100 yards of total offense in three consecutive games — wins over the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers — and scored touchdowns in back-to-back games for the only time in 2023.

Buccaneers Added Depth at RB in 2024 NFL Draft

The Buccaneers added depth at running back in the 2024 NFL draft when they selected Oregon’s Bucky Irving in the fourth round (No. 125 overall).

In 2023, he had 1,593 yards of total offense and 13 touchdowns and was named All-Pac-12.

“We thought he might go a little bit earlier,” Tampa Bay Director of Player Personnel Mike Biehl after the Buccaneers selected Irving. “He’s a guy we brought in on a ‘Top 30’ visit and spent some time with him. We thought maybe he would be a second-day pick, but he falls to the third day. I think even talking to him, when Jason called him, he had a little bit of a chip on his shoulder, thinking he should have gone earlier. We kind of like that. He’s just another right kind of character guy that we’ve been targeting. He fits that mold.”

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Tony Adame covers the NFL for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Commanders and Denver Broncos. A veteran sports writer and editor since 2004, his work has been featured at Stadium Talk, Yardbarker, NW Florida Daily News and Pensacola News Journal. More about Tony Adame

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