The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had quite the haul during the 2018 NFL Draft, selecting eight players after general manager Jason Licht traded down twice – once in the first round and again in the second round. Now it’s time for PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds to review the 2018 Bucs draft class and assign some initial grades based on the players’ attributes and value based on the round they were selected.

Running back Ronald Jones II the team’s first of three second-round picks, is up next, followed by cornerback M.J. Stewart, who was the second of Tampa Bay’s three second-round picks.

Round 2: USC RB Ronald Jones II – 5-11, 205 – Junior

Tampa Bay needed a feature running back to replace Doug Martin, and Jones has proven that he can carry the load at USC. Jones nearly rushed for 1,000 yards (987) as a true freshman, and his production improved every year from 1,082 yards and 12 TDs as a sophomore to 1,550 yards and 19 TDs as a junior.

USC RB Ronald Jones II - Photo courtesy of USC

USC RB Ronald Jones II – Photo courtesy of USC

Jones is capable of making big plays with his electric speed and instant acceleration. The USC Trojan had 14 100-yard games and 13 explosive plays (12 runs, one catch) of 40 yards or more in college. Seven of those explosive plays traveled 60 yards or more.

His pro comparable is former Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles, who was identically built at 5-foot-11, 199 pounds. Jones has a similar up-right running style as Charles, a former third-round pick that became a four-time Pro Bowler with the Chiefs.

Jones, who has 4.5 speed, is more than a slashing runner. He’s got a physical edge to him and has an aggressive running style that allows him to break more tackles than you think a slashing-running back would. Jones is a very good scheme fit into Dirk Koetter’s offense, which needs more explosive runs of 20-plus yards or more.

The Question Marks

Like most rookie running backs, Jones is not where he needs to be in pass protection. He wasn’t asked to do it a lot at USC, and he had some moments where he was effective, and some where he allowed some sacks. In order to be able to play on third downs Jones will need to improve as a pass protector and also in his ability to run routes in the passing game. Jones was limited to catching screen passes and swing passes in the flat at U, but has good hands and the ability to learn how to be a much more accomplished receiver out of the backfield.

The Rookie Season Expectations

Jones will pair with Peyton Barber, who was last year’s leading rusher, to give the Bucs a “slash and bash” backfield. Jones has more talent and speed, and will eventually become the starting running back in Tampa Bay sooner rather than later, but his frame may not allow him to get more than 20 touches per game to be able to hold up over the long haul. A 1,000-yard rushing year isn’t out of the question for Jones in 2018, but with Barber expected to split the workload, if Jones rushed for 700 yards and half a dozen scores in 2018 it would be considered a very successful rookie season.

The Grade: B+

The Bucs – and other teams – passed over a very talented running back in LSU’s Derrius Guice for Jones. Did they make the right call? Jones has speed and playmaking ability not found on Tampa Bay’s roster and is one of the more underrated running backs in this draft class. In the end, he could be even better than Guice at the next level.

Up Next: CB M.J. Stewart

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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nitey
3 years ago

Guice the football player is probably better, but Guice the human being apparently is not. Much rather have Jones than the almost certain headaches that we might have had with Guice.

BucWonder
3 years ago

I think Ronald turns out to be the star of this great draft by Licht.

Schwifty9
3 years ago

I was initially skeptical as to why we had passed over Derrius Guice to draft RoJo. And still can’t help but think that Guice probably would have been a better pick from purely an on the field skill set stand point. I honestly think that Guice has the talent and potential to become a Marshawn Lynch lite type of back. However I have warmed up to Ronald Jones after watching all of his game tapes on youtube. After doing so I came away with a greater appreciation of his game, as I noticed that USC’s Oline is more often than… Read more »

Madman
3 years ago

Rojo will be a star, better than Guice. Love that play at 1:35 where he catches the pass late over the middle and literally outruns 7 or 8 guys to the EZ. His speed is shocking and he’s a good slasher at the goal line too, Marcus Allen style. Rojo won’t get caught from behind like Dougie did so many times. He will scare defenses. The Bucs haven’t had a weapon like him in the backfield since Dunn.

ScottC543
Reply to  Madman
3 years ago

You’re forgetting Cadillac Williams. Before he blew out his knee, any run was a potential TD. If Jones brings us that again, look out league.

Horse
3 years ago

Good grade.

DallasBucsFan
3 years ago

Ronald Jones’ 4.6 40 time at the combine (with a pulled hamstring), made everyone question his explosiveness – mistake. He is quick, shift, and has breakaway speed. 3 things missing from most of our backs for a long time. He is not a huge tackle-breaker, but he runs strong and picks up the downhill yardage when needed. Unlike Guice, he won’t get into a shouting match with our coaches either (evidently that’s what happened in Philly, and why he dropped a full round). I have no complaints in this draft. Every pick has upside, and if nothing else provides depth… Read more »

Madman
3 years ago

You can see the dude is crazy fast. While close to 100%, he estimated he was around 85 or 90% for this workout, running a 4.48 40-yard dash (better than the 4.6 he ran at the combine after pulling up halfway through).

DallasBucsFan
3 years ago

Without the 4.6 at the combine, I doubt he falls to the second round, though. So, bad for him, good for us. Above average to very good starter for the next 5-7 years. Nice work.

FLBoy84
3 years ago

Really like the Jones pick as well, but believe just swapping him out for Martin while bringing the rest of an underachieving bunch(besides Barber) back may be a mistake. Hope to see legitimate competition brought in to compete with/replace Rodgers and Sims, which shouldn’t be difficult to accomplish.

SCLOBERNOCKER
3 years ago

Big fan of RoJo. He brings a missing piece to this team.

buccaneerNW
3 years ago

Summary: he’s good.

SenileSenior
3 years ago

I posted a comment somewhere on Pewter Report about 1:00 A.M. on Saturday morning after the second round. I was a bit groggy at the time (not from booze or anything). I am copying those remarks here. __________________________ After midnight … We gonna let it all hang down …. 🎶🎸 🎵 .. 🎉 … 🏈 _________________ Preliminary grades for the first two days of the 20108 NFL draft: 1. (1, 12) Vea, NT — A 2. (2, 38) Jones, RB — A 3. (2, 53) Stewart, CB —B 4. (2, 63) Davis, CB — B+ 5. (3, 94) Cappa, G/T… Read more »

SenileSenior
3 years ago

P.S. I did sit down earlier today and performed a pluses and minuses, side by side comparison on paper earlier today between Vita Vea and Derwin James. Just messing around before I went to the Web to see how pundits were rating the Bucs draft. (Pundits, you know, professionals who get paid for their evaluations). I had basically rated them about the same values as athletes and football players. In other words, I was not taking the importance of one position over the other. I was doing something like a needs and BPA analysis, a comparison and contrast evaluation. This… Read more »

buddah
3 years ago

Nailed it. This one put the exclamation point on the off season. Top 5 offense barring injuries to Jamies or Evans.

plopes808
3 years ago

Literally the only thing I don’t like about this pick is that I now have to go back and re-do my Madden 18 roster until 19 comes out.

Very happy with this draft haul…I give it a preliminary B+/A-

GoldsonAges
3 years ago

My question is Jones big enough to become a feature back? I think they should stick with Barber as the starter. Jones is more of a complimentary back. He really needs to improve his pass pro quickly if he’s going to see much playing time this year. What I like about Jones is he has elite game speed.

wnb0395
Reply to  GoldsonAges
3 years ago

Everyone had the same question about Jamal Charles. Hopefully RoJo and follow in his footsteps.

scubog
3 years ago

When we drafted Ronald Jones I tried to recall if we ever had a running back like him. While some might compare him to the relatively diminutive Warrick Dunn, I think he’s more like Jerry Eckwood. Finally a backfield threat who will cause Defensive Coordinators to worry.

I liked Guice, but avoiding a potential problem is as good as finding a solution.

chetthevette
Reply to  scubog
3 years ago

Eckwood, Scu your age is showing.great colparision though.
GO BUCS

Wausa
3 years ago

Scott:
I know you are posting what Ronald Jones time was in the 40 during his pro day, but that is greatly understating how fast he is.
Per milesplit.com(the preeminent source for track and field stats for American High School and College). Here was his fastest 100 meter time in high school:

100 Meters of 10.37 District 10 – 5A Apr 8, 2015 – Apr 9, 2015 1st Place

Wausa
3 years ago

Ronald Jones tried to run through his injury at his pro day but ran a rather pedestrian time. Assuming he is the exact same speed he was in high school when he ran a 10.37 100 meters it is fair to say if he was healthy he would easily run a sub 4.4 and would have a good shot at running sub 4.3.

Buc76
3 years ago

Scubog, sorry dude. I saw Jerry Eckwood play many times. Jerry Eckwood had no where near this guy’s speed. Jerry Eckwood was more like an Ericht Rhett. Terrell Davis keeps comparing him to Eric Dickerson.

EastEndBoy
3 years ago

My favorite pick of the draft, if for no other reason than this represents a huge upgrade for us. I’m not sold on “slash and bash”…Peyton Barber was very very ordinary last year. Maybe he can take some of the grinding it out yards if we need to run down the clock, but otherwise he should not leave the pine. Jones is a major leap forward for our running game – even if some think Guice is better, the improvement for us in starting Jones is enormous.

skipper
skipper
3 years ago

Maybe a closer comparison is Gary Anderson. Anderson a bit lighter but both explosive.