It's looking like it's back to basics for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2023.

The Bucs struggled immensely throughout much of last season, especially on offense, due to poor blocking and a historically bad running game. Even still, they somehow managed to make the playoffs thanks to how awful their division was.

That may have been more of a curse than a blessing though, as they suffered a blowout loss at home to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round.

This offseason hasn't been too kind to Tampa Bay either. The biggest loss was obviously quarterback Tom Brady, who retired for good this time after coming back last offseason.

Now, the Bucs have Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask competing for the starting job, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence. The Bucs managed to keep cornerback Jamel Dean and linebacker Lavonte David, but the uncertainty under center has many predicting them to be one of the worst teams in the league.

If the Bucs want to prove those projections wrong, they will have to get big contributions from their rookie class. Tampa Bay welcomed in eight draft picks this year, spanning many different positions.

Some of the highlights include defensive tackle Calijah Kancey in the first round and guard Cody Mauch in the second round. However, those later-round selections could make an impact as well, and one of them in particular stands out.

Without further ado, let's meet that player and explain why he's a sleeper.

Buccaneers Rookie Sleeper: SirVocea Dennis

Kancey wasn't the only former Pittsburgh Panther to come to Tampa Bay in this draft. Linebacker SirVocea Dennis, the first of two fifth-round selections by the Bucs, will join his college teammate at the professional level as well.

Choosing an off-ball linebacker to make an impact for Tampa Bay seems like a strange choice. After all, the Bucs already have two strong ones in Lavonte David and Devin White, so how is a fifth-round rookie going to break through?

While he may not get a ton of snaps, Dennis should make the most of the ones he does get.

Hailing from Syracuse, New York, Dennis was a relatively unknown prospect out of high school. He was only a two-star prospect according to 247Sports, and he initially enrolled at a prep school after graduating. He then transferred to Pitt after one year, and he made the most of his new opportunity.

Over his last three seasons at Pitt, Dennis has accounted for 232 tackles, 36 tackles for loss and 15 sacks.

He earned all-ACC recognition in each of those seasons, including a first-team nod in 2022. Dennis was a staple of a strong Pitt defense that allowed the second-fewest yards in the ACC last season.

“They used him in some unique ways,” said Buccaneers Director of Player Personnel Mike Biehl. “They brought him off the edge, they brought him up the middle. They used him in a lot of the same ways that Todd [Bowles] uses our linebackers so it should be a good fit and an easy transition for him, I would think. He's really high on football intelligence. Him and Kancey shouldn't have any issues making the transition to our league.”

If Dennis can maintain his college production, then he could be a solid part of the Bucs' future. David and White both have just one year left on their deals. Additionally, the former is already 33 and the latter recently requested a trade, so both might be gone soon.

From that angle, taking another linebacker for the future seems like a good move. That move looks even better given that he plays similarly to David, one of the best defenders in team history.

“As a player, he's super-instinctive, has good athletic ability and he just flies around the field and makes a lot of plays,” Biehl said “He's a little bit like Lavonte, I would say. Lavonte's maybe a little bit bigger but he has the same traits as far as the instincts and the athletic ability and the ability to get sideline to sideline. And if he's a backup initially he should be really good on special teams, which is exciting for us.”

So, while Davis may not see a crazy amount of snaps as a rookie, he can still be valuable in a rotational role. After that, he could become a key piece of the Buccaneers' defense, if all goes well.