Son of Former Buccaneer, ‘Survivor’ Contestant Could Crack Roster as UDFA

Judge Culpepper

Getty Toledo defensive tackle Judge Culpepper in 2023.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a familiar name from the franchise’s past with the team via undrafted free agency, and he’s been singled out as being one of the rare UDFAs who could crack an NFL 53-man roster this fall.

The Buccaneers signed Toledo defensive tackle Judge Culpepper to an undrafted free agent contract on May 10 — Culpepper is the son of 9-year NFL veteran Brad Culpepper, who played for the Buccaneers from 1994 to 1999.

Pro Football Focus’ Thomas Valentine singled out Culpepper as the one UDFA to watch for the Buccaneers on May 10.

“Culpepper has racked up 62 pressures in three seasons for Toledo and earned a 66.4 grade in 2023,” Valentine wrote. “He’s shown glimpses of being a strong run defender and his father played in the NFL for nine seasons. The genetics are strong.”

Judge Culpepper’s mother, Monica, is also well-known — she was a contestant on “Survivor: One World” in 2012 and both Monica and Brad Culpepper were contestants on “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” in 2013.

Judge Culpepper Started College Career at Penn State

Judge Culpepper, 6-foot-4 and 293 pounds, played high school football at Plant (Fla.) High in Tampa, then played at Penn State from 2018 to 2020 before transferring to Toledo for his final 3 seasons.

In 2023, Culpepper capped his career by leading Toledo with 9.0 sacks and being named first-team All-MAC.

“It’s an awesome opprotunity, really cool,” Judge said during Buccaneers’ rookie minicamp. “I think (Brad) would have been happy wherever I went, but certainly being home, being in Tampa — there’s no better place than Tampa Bay, in my eyes.”

Brad Culpepper was an All-American at Florida in 1991 before being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 10th round of the 1992 NFL draft.

He played for the Vikings for two seasons and closed his career with one season on the Chicago Bears in 2000, but had his best years with the Buccaneer. Brad Culpepper started every game for three consecutive seasons from 1997 to 1999, including a career-high 9.0 sacks in 1998 playing next to Pro Football Hall of Famers in defensive tackle Warren Sapp and linebacker Derrick Brooks.

Where Does Bucs’ Defensive Line Stand Today?

One thing Judge Culpepper has going for him is that the Buccaneers’ have only drafted one interior defensive lineman in the last two years — 2023 first-round pick Calijah Kancey.

One thing he has going against him? The reason the Buccaneers didn’t draft a bunch of interior defensive linemen is they have a lot of depth at those positions. Judge Culpepper is currently listed at fourth on the depth chart on behind Kancey, Mike Greene and Eric Banks at right defensive end.

One thing that might help Judge Culpepper is showing the ability both nose tackle and one of the end positions that line up inside the outside linebackers.

“A lot of the defensive linemen on the field are super versatile guys, so I’m just trying to add something to that,” Judge said. “Trying to be versatile, be able to play multiple positions and just add another element to that. Any value I can add, I just wanna do that.”

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