Many mock drafts have predicted that the Bucs and head coach Bruce Arians may be in position to draft a running back relatively high when the 2021 NFL Draft rolls around this April, however many of those predictions came prior to the Bucs’ re-signing running back Leonard Fournette.

After all, Fournette and Ronald Jones II combined for 79 percent of the Bucs’ offensive snaps in the 2020 regular season, and the team still has 2020 third-round pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn preparing to enter his second season.

“That all can be defined through practice and OTAs and training camp and preseason,” Arians said about each back’s role for the 2021 season. “Those guys are all here and know what the system is and the best players are going to play. Obviously we have two really, really good ones at that position and I really like Ke’Shawn Vaughn. I think that with an offseason he’s going to have a breakout year also. All of those roles will be defined by the time that we get to the last week of the preseason.”

It was a rough rookie season for Vaughn, who fumbled twice and dropped four passes on just nine targets. Still, there were flashes as a runner and as a receiver, as the Vanderbilt product rushed for 109 yards on 26 carries for an average of over four yards a pop. Despite Tampa Bay essentially bringing back the same running back group they had in 2021, sans veteran LeSean McCoy, Arians wouldn’t rule out the potential of drafting a running back in the upcoming draft.

“Probably not,” Arians said about ruling out drafting a running back. “This year, going into this draft, [we’re probably going to target] the best player available, probably in every round. I can’t really say that I’ve ever gone into a draft not having a need, a drastic need. So it’s going to be fun because there’s going to be so many guys available, it’s just the beauty pageant part of it. ‘We like this corner better than that back, or this defensive end, and how much can they help us on special teams right away?’ So that part of it, it won’t change.”

Another thing that may crucially keep a running back in the cards for Tampa Bay this draft season is the current contract situations of the backs on their roster. While Tampa Bay may feel comfortable with their running backs for now, both Fournette and Jones will be heading to free agency next offseason, barring an extension. Unless Vaughn proves to be the breakout stud Arians is predicting, the Bucs will need more help in their backfield via the draft.

Share On Socials

About the Author: Taylor Jenkins

Subscribe
Notify of
18 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SappAttack
3 months ago

The dude flashed. One fumble was pretty questionable if you ask me. He just need more reps which he will get with Shady out of here.

fredster
Reply to  SappAttack
3 months ago

4 fumbles in extremely limited use and he flashed. He flashed he sucks maybe. Oh and he drops half of his targets.

cobraboy
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

Most casual fans like yourself can’t even get stats right. Two fumbles, nor four, and one was from a suicide mission…and I don’t blame him from not holding on. Few RBs in the league could have either. He flashed when given limited chances, although he does need to work on those hands. Fact is with Jines and Fournette ahead of him during a SB push, getting carries or receptions is difficult. Some guys need a strong offseason program, especially coming from a second tier school line Vanderbilt (factoid: Grandad CB was an All American at Vandy in 1911, so we… Read more »

Spitfire
3 months ago

The times I saw Vaughn catch on his back hip beautifully and then turn and ran, he looked solid AF. He was a rookie with no off-season and all of a sudden catching passes and getting handoffs from the Goat. He had no support or any real chance to gain footing in the Offense. I have a feeling you all are too ready to write him off just like RoJo and he has the complete possibility of becoming everything we need on 3rd down. Problem is you can’t count on it so if an upgrade is there in the Draft… Read more »

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Spitfire
3 months ago

To be fair, Antoine Winfield Jr. and Tristan Wirfs came in with no offseasons and much tougher jobs, and they both played at very high levels as rookies. RB is the easiest job to transition to in the NFL – see hole, hit role, run far. The route tree for RBs is limited and simple, and even there, the job is simple. The pass pro is a relatively tougher transition, no doubt, but compared to a safety that has to play ALL over the defense as AWJ did, executing a complex defensive scheme, the difference in difficulty there is extreme.

lanshire12
Reply to  toofamiliar17
3 months ago

If AWJ was a couple of inches taller, you just compared Vaughn to two first round picks in last year’s draft. Not an apples to apples comparison. College running backs are used to huge holes to run through. Those rarely happen in the pros.

drdneast
Reply to  toofamiliar17
3 months ago

I’ve read a lot of silly senseless remarks out here but that one definitely has to be in the Top 10.

SaskBucs
Reply to  toofamiliar17
3 months ago

Yeah… you still have to know the offense and the assignments. Plus there is the added pressure of lugging that mail! Wirfs and AWJ don’t touch that important piece on the field.

Countrybrew
3 months ago

I still think we need at least one more RB and I really like the kid from Memphis Kenneth Gainwell.

Alldaway 2.0
3 months ago

Bucs will draft a RB and Vaughn will improve.

Jackson Lini
3 months ago

Vaughn won’t be seeing the field much if he continues to fumble and drop catchable balls. Tom isn’t going to throw it to someone he doesn’t have confidence in.

SaskBucs
3 months ago

I too have high hopes for Vaughn. Last year with no offseason, just getting thrown into the fire with the GOAT and what I assume are some strong personalities in that RB room. None of that should be an excuse but I think he will show us something this season. The Bears fumble you can’t really pin on him. Suicide pass. He caught one and took it to the house from 10-20 yards out correct? Cant remember the game but think I remember the play, kinda wheel route down left sideline. Rojo had one like that too though and we… Read more »

aredsoxfan1
3 months ago

I like Vaughn. If the kid is smart he should be doing everything in his power to turn himself into a third down back. That would be his best option for increased playing time.

fredster
3 months ago

He sucks. They might draft another RB after re-signing Fournette but they expect he can catch now and have break out season? Doesn’t even make any sense lol. He’s so good we re-signed Fournette and might draft one still though. Ok whatever.

chefboho
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

Yes let’s just get rid of everyone who sucks their first year in the nfl. 🙄 in that case Rojo, OJ Howard, Donovan smith, vita Vea, and Carlton Davis should all “be gone” because none of them were “good” in their first year.

plopes808
3 months ago

Remember when Rojo was a “bust?” Let’s not make the same mistake with Vaughn

scubog
Reply to  plopes808
3 months ago

You’re right about that Plopes. Some here in Bucville are way too quick to declare players as “busts” or “reaches”, only to be proven wrong. Over the years there have been countless players given that early moniker. I’ve learned not to make judgement until a bit more than a dozen plays are on the evidence table. One need only look back at the beginning of the careers of John Lynch and Ronde Barber. Of course, some guy named Steve Young (the QB not the OT) looked horrendous as he began his career with the Bucs. Had we been willing to… Read more »

Dman
3 months ago

I’d like to see Vaughn get enough reps to see what he can do. BA is also blowing a little smoke here saying we don’t have needs – Draft Day strategy. D line and Edge are needs at this point with the age of our starters.