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2024 Rookie Profile: Bucky Irving – Running Back

Unsure of where to go with this year's running back class? Let @MJohrendt23 enlighten you on Oregon's Bucky Irving, the best pass-catcher RB in the draft.

One of the best dual-threat running backs in the 2024 NFL Draft, Oregon’s Bucky Irving could become this year’s RB1. Blessed with burner speed and elusiveness that most others cannot match, Irving puts any concerns about his size to rest.

Profile

  • College: Oregon
  • Height: 5’ 10”
  • Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Age: 21
  • Year: Junior
  • Draft Projection: 3rd – 4th Round

College Career

SeasonCarriesRushing YardsRushing TDsReceptionsReceiving YardsReceiving TDs
2021-2213369948730
2022-231561,0585312993
2023-241861,18011564132

Entering the draft, Irving was a workhorse in school, starting with the Minnesota Gophers for his first season. Transferring to Oregon for his final two years, Irving experienced much success wherever he went.

Averaging over six yards per carry across his final two years, Irving found the end zone 21 times (16 rushing, five receiving) for the Ducks. Having played a significant role in Oregon’s offense, Irving helped put his name on the draft radar.

Heavily utilized in both areas of the offense, Irving, QB Bo Nix, and WR Troy Franklin are all making the jump to the NFL, and while Franklin and Nix are bigger names, Irving could have a better career in the long run.

Strengths

Speed

Track-like speed is sprinkled throughout Irving’s tape, making him valuable in the passing game. While Irving isn’t likely going to sniff the NFL Combine record for the 40-yard dash, his speed is still above average, allowing him to run away from trailing defenders easily.

Next-Level Instincts

Irving has shown an uncanny ability always to know where the hole is and how to beat the defense at the point of attack. His smaller size does allow him to find the holes better at times, but his willingness to be a back who knows what he is doing with the ball as soon as he touches it is essential.

Vision and patience are two of his strongest characteristics with the ball in his hands, and Irving utilizes these traits every time he has the ball. This elusiveness will translate well to the NFL, and teams looking to add a back that matches the current-day mold of running backs will gravitate toward Irving.

Receiving Abilities

I see Jerick McKinnon all over Irving’s tape, which is more because of his skills and not his size. The work Irving produces when catching the ball is unrivaled by almost every other back in this class, which will probably get Irving drafted higher than expected.

Irving probably won’t ever be seen as a bell cow, but his ability to be a big-time contributor in the passing game will allow some offenses to split him out wide.

Weaknesses

Size & Frame

Irving is an unexpectedly aggressive runner when meeting a defender in the trenches, as he almost seems to enjoy contact. And while that approach could work in college, he will quickly learn that it doesn’t translate to the NFL.

His size will probably turn a few NFL teams off, as a running back entering the league with a lot of work already under his belt could turn into an injury risk. While he remained healthy at Oregon, Irving’s frame could lend itself to being an injury risk in the NFL.

Pass Blocking

It feels cheap to put pass blocking in as a weakness for Irving, having just covered his small size. But it’s a part of what he brings to the league, and it could ultimately limit his playing time.

Expecting a running back under 200 pounds to stand tall against a charging linebacker isn’t realistic, so this part of his game will likely just be something teams need to live with.

Projected Draft Capital and Dynasty Outlook

As an entire position group, running backs are incredibly tough to project this draft cycle. Waiting until their landing spots are known will help, but Irving is a sneaky pick to fill the RB1 role.

Irving’s speed will help him immediately adapt to the NFL, but his small size could be an issue for teams. If you want to invest in the RB position in your dynasty drafts, Irving will likely still be on the board around the start of the second round.

With few comparable backs in his draft class, Irving stands out for the right reasons. While his size could limit his impact, it shouldn’t be enough to make you not want to draft him entirely. 

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