I’ve started to do some preliminary research and film study for the draft. I decided to look at RBs first.
One player that has caught my eye right off the bat is Michael Carter of UNC. It looks like he’s going to be about a 3rd round player? Presumably this is due to his size. However, we’ll see what the combine shakes out. If his 40, 10 YS, Broad Jump, and 3 Cone are big, he’ll likely ascend to round 2 and potentially be out of play for us.
Traits on tape and metrics that pop for me:
* This is a very bad Run Blocking OL.
* 6th in NCAA in Yards After Contact.
* 5th in NCAA in Forced Missed Tackles.
* 1st in NCAA in Carries of 15+ Yards.
* Extremely good Yards Per Route Run and only 1 Drop. There are snaps on tape where he just explodes out of cuts and embarrasses LBers.
* I see really good balance through contact. Often keeps feet with trash contact and doesn’t go down to arm or shoestring tackles.
* I see fantastic vision both at the first level and in space.
* Tremendous ability to set up blocks and make people miss.
* Good pad level and leg drive at the end of plays.
* Explosive omnidirectional burst and stop/start.
* Pass Pro will be a question, but Thurman Thomas was one of the greatest Pass Protectors of all time and they were the same size. Its overwhelmingly about technique, awareness, base, and thump.
Unlike all priors years under Licht’s regime, we’re going to be drafting late. My preliminary view of this kid tells me that a hefty tradeup from our 3rd (using our 5th would move us up 7ish spots and that might get it done) might very well be a good investment in this kid.
Let me put it another way. If Vaughn’s metric and tape were this kid, I would have been much less incredulous over the pick.
Other RBs I’m going to look at include:
Najee Harris – 1st rd (yeah, I know where my position on this is typically)
Khalil Herbert – 4th rd
I think you can still draft a running back somewhere in the mid or late rounds. Fournette has no deal next year. That doesn’t mean you think Jones or Vaughn are a bust. We still need that pass catching 3rd down back who can be that outlet for Brady. I won’t be surprised if a veteran is brought in for that this offseason. But in any case I don’t think you rule out picking up a running back somewhere in the draft no matter who you already have on the team.
My expectation is that he’s the first RB off the board and not available at the end of the 1st round. His tackle-breaking, balance-through-contact, yards-after-contact, forced missed tackles is easily tops in this class. Good vision, great pad level. His skills with the ball in his hand are trivially translatable to NFL success on the ground.
However, my preliminary look into him has me questioning how much of a weapon he will be in the Passing Game. He receives the ball easily (though too many drops) but there aren’t enough reps of him 1v1 beating people with the kind of routes that a passing-game-weapon in the NFL will be performing (Angle, Option, Pivot). He’s definitely capable of being an asset, but its not clear if he’ll be a weapon.
Its extremely difficult for me to feel comfortable drafting a RB at 31 or 32 where I don’t know if he’ll be a weapon in the passing game. But this kid’s abilities may prove the exception if he is there (and there aren’t iOL, iDL, Edge players that offer better and more necessary immediate return).
I don’t know if you were saying RB will be 1 of our 2 highest priorities in the top rounds of this or not….but I’m not ready to throw in the towel on Vaughn. In extremely limited reps, to be expected on a 3rd pick to a team with Superbowl aspirations and 3 vets at the position…the young man showed some decent potential (very small sample). Having watched a few of his Candy games, he’s a guy that seemingly gets better as the game goes. He runs with some power, apretty good (not great to be fair) vision, and doesn’t dance behind the line resulting in consistently getting forward. It’s the thing that drives me nuts about Fournette, a guy that big and strong, he does a tap dance behind the line (often), slows any momentum and loses yards rather than at least getting positive yardage. I believe Vaughn can get better in the passing game, as he was at least average at it in college..seems like after that massive hit he took earlier in the season that he lost a bit of confidence. He comes across as a hard worker, and see him coming back next season much improved. I’d be ok with Jones (assuming he continues to progress, like this season) and Vaughn…maybe finding a small shifty guy, a la Chris Thompson, mid to late in the draft to come in for certain packages. Shady was a complete waste in that role. Wish we had hung onto Raymond Calais (developed him) rather than keeping an expensive washed up Shady.
Don’t you feel we’ve invested too much into the position Nobody? I feel like we should either re-sign Fournette, or sign a real third down back who can pass block and makes plays in the passing game to a relatively cheap contract, while leaning on Rojo and Vaughn.
Nothing against a dart throw on the last day of the draft, but another early pick on RB?
I feel like we’ve invested incorrectly, not invested “too much.” There are tiers when it comes to capability as a RB in the passing game.
In my opinion, you never draft a RB in the top 2 rounds that isn’t at least an Asset in the passing game.
We’ve drafted a RB with a high 2 that was (and has been) predictably a Liability in the passing game and has “ascended” (in year 3 when his contract is almost done) to somewhere between Liability and Serviceable (probably right between the two).
Then we draft Vaughn in the 3rd who may be Serviceable, but the reps he put on the field in 2020 were abysmal (save 1 rep).
* 5/8 Pass Pro Snaps were bad or worse.
* 3 Drops on 10 Targets (2 of which were almost picked because of the bad deflection)?
* 1 Fumble on 10 Targets?
* 2 Fumbles on 49 Carries?
* Take out the Detroit game where we basically weren’t playing NFL Football (no coaching staff, no prep, fired HC, injuries…this wasn’t a JV game) and it was 16 Carries for 68 yards…with only 1 Forced Miss Tackle…2 First Downs…47 % Efficiency?
That is as Train-Wrecky a Rookie Season for a RB as it gets. Anyone who says that he is anything more than a complete unknown commodity with a lean toward “uh oh” is kidding themselves. And, again, we’ve already lost 1 year of service with no return (which you don’t want to do with NFL RBs).
RB is the lowest learning curve position in the NFL. Simultaneously, its (a) the most injury prone (along with ILB) with (b) the shortest career and the biggest drop-off from 1st contract to 2nd contract. If you’re a Rookie RB in the top 3 rounds, you need to be getting snaps year 1 and you need to be producing. We’ve drafted 2 RBs in the top 3 rounds that are not Assets or Weapons in the passing game AND they basically red-shirted year 1. That is profoundly below the NFL standard.
Jones is going to be gone after next year. This team really needs a reliable Asset or Weapon in the Passing Game to fortify our offense for 2021. Going into 2021 with Jones and Vaughn as our RBs just isn’t tenable. So right now, I’m thinking James White or Mike Davis in FA (we’re going to be squeezed for $) or Carter in rd 3.
Its really crazy that our offense has performed as well as it has given how both poor and uneven our RB play has been in the Passing Game.
Check this insanity out. Our Regular Season RBs collectively Dropped an INSANE 17 balls (Vaughn 3, McCoy 2, Jones 5, Fournette 7) on only 132 Targets! That is a STAGGERING 12.9 % Drop Rate.
They also managed a measly 6.5 Yards Per Reception!
The median Drop Rate for RBs in the NFL with 30 or more Targets is only 6.4 %! Less than half of our Drop Rate!
Median Yards Per Reception? 7.6!
This isn’t the actual best RBs. This is the Median.
Our RBs are profoundly unreliable, profoundly unproductive, and the worst Pass Protectors in the NFL. Triple Crown!
Licht is trying to grab as much talent and see if anything sticks, which is the opposite of being good at evaluations. Under early Koetter, he had good runners, pass blockers, and pass catchers in dimunitive Doug Martin and large catching radius Charles Sims. UDFA Peyton Barber took a few years of development on pass blocking.
In 2018, we were missing a starting RG, but Licht stood pat with three 2nd round draft picks and selected a run only RB in Rojo for a vertical passing offense. Licht was all set on selecting LG Quenton Nelson at 7th overall, but he was picked at the 6th pick. So why did pick a run only RB when we still didn’t have a starting RG? Rojo didn’t play much in his rookie year because he couldn’t catch nor pass block! Late 3rd rounder RT/RG Alex Cappa also didn’t start in 2018. We could have traded up for RG/RT Braden Smith or LG Will Hernandez.
Similarly for the 2020 draft, we took project RB Vaughn in the 3rd rd when we could have been bolstering our iOL with C Hennessy or C Cushenberry, both playing guard for the moment. Vaughn has barely seen the field in his rookie season, just like Rojo in 2018. Licht is wasting years by not finding competent day 1 starters with valuable draft capital. We could have a possible solution to move on from C Jensen and his $10 mil by having Hennessy or Cushenberry on our team for a year, plus gaining the trust of Brady. We lost Marpet during the season and lost Cappa. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually have talent in our OLine depth developing?
If Licht wanted an impact, vertical RB type, then he should have traded to the top of the 3rd round or bottom of it this year to draft RB/WR Antonio Gibson, a better version of Charles Sims. But we would have had to use the 5th rounder we used on WR Tyler Johnson.
It’s simply a lot of misuse of valuable assets/capital.
I think adding a Davis or White through FA will be good enough with Rojo and Vaughn.
Premium draft capital needs to be spent in the trenches as usual. Can Godwin, David, Barrett, Succop, Gronk be fit under our cap? Barrett May have to go then you are looking at replacing 2 starters on the Dline.
After that we need a Possible replacement for Smith and Jensen in 2022 not to mention JPP.
Anyway, I agree this team needs better weapons out of the backfield but the draft unless it’s late isn’t the way to go imo.
I like RoJo, and Lenny has had his moments for sure…but I’m not attached to either of those guys. RoJo is back for 1 more year but we need a stud pass catching RB, matching that with Brady pretty much cements another deep playoff run for next year.
RD 1 * iOL – Landon Dickerson or Creed Humphrey and put him at Center
I like both of these prospects, along with OSU’s Josh Myers. I would prefer to get one of these three at the end of R2, but wouldn’t hate them at the end of R1 depending on who is available. I think the Center position is the most important along the OL.
huge fan of Landon Dickerson (fun to watch!) but he’s one of the big prospect who should slide way down due to injury… imo, i’m not sure someone take a shot before day 3!
early 2nd round pick on Rojo, 3rd round on Vaughn and you want Licht to take another one on day 2?
unless Carter is the next Kamara, give me Kenyan Drake or(/and?) James White in FA… should cost $3-4M/year max. and use the pick on a much more expensive position (LT/Edge Rusher/DL/CB).
I certainly don’t want to draft a RB (you guys all should know that by now). I’d much rather invest in OL/Edge/DB there. But I also haven’t looked at the 80-100 prospects (again, I haven’t looked at anyone to the degree I typically do at this point).
But (a) we’re looking at another 1 year window (b) where we presently don’t have an RB who is even Serviceable in the Passing Game while (c) staring down a significant short on $ and personnel signed to contracts.
Figuring out the puzzle is going to be a neat trick. But, as I mentioned, if we can somehow get Davis or White on a hyper-budget contract, that solves the problem.
1) We can get a passing game amplifying RB like Davis or White on a budget contract.
2) The iDL, Edge, OL, DB group in the late 3rd round (we’re going to be picking at 90…this is the intersecting area where the ceiling and floor of the premium positions nose dive while passing game amplifying RB value increases significantly) maintain the requisite level of potency to invest here (if a Winovich, Ferguson, Baun, Crosby, Tretter, Hargrave are on the board you take them…but they rarely are at that point).
I don’t want to invest in a Passing Game capable RB in the 3rd. But the situation may align where it’s the correct thing to do.
I am all in on Carter he would put the offense over the top. This offense struggles with hots when blitz heavily and the screen game. Carter would hopefully solve this immediately. If BA liked Antonio Gibson last year he will LOVE Carter. I don’t think lets this one get away like Gibson last year. I see us jumping up to the mid 3rd to take him.
Our hierarchy of needs is
1. edge and/or idl pass rushers
2. Rb that is a weapon in the pass game
3. OL Depth (Wells and Haeg just don’t cut it, Stinnie seems to be decent depth)
4. CB depth, developmental qb,
Depth with special teams value.
I agree with the needs assessment, but I think we will end up getting a FA RB. The list of role-player RBs on the FA list is pretty long this year. From Ameer Abdullah to Marlon Mack to Cordarelle Patterson to Rex Burkhead. OK I’ll just list some more. Mike Davis, Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman, Leveon Bell, Todd Gurley and more. Veteran running backs can be affordable and dependable even if they aren’t blowing the doors off people. If Fournette scores a contract from another team, and I wish him luck with that he earned it, the Bucs will dive into that scrap pile to dig up another gem.
I could see us drafting a gadget player in the mid-rounds. They dabbled with that last year, drafting Raymond Calais in the 7th. Ultimately they couldn’t quite afford to use a spot on the 53 man roster for him and he was poached off the practice squad. So I could see the Bucs stepping up a couple rounds to draft a player who will stick around this time.
So as long as the Bucs are trying to go all in to win next year that’s how I see the Bucs approaching the RB situation. They’ll stick with Jones and Vaughn with Fournette cashing in a contract from another team and McCoy retiring. They pick up a veteran FA and draft a small gadget-type RB in the 4th or 5th round.
I feel like rb is something you want to invest in almost every draft. Doesn’t always have to be a high round or even mid round, but I think rb is a position where you can still find a stud late round. Good ones don’t grow on trees but I think they are far more available than any skill position. Maybe wr can find them easier but still can find them fairly easy. With that said its probably just as easy to pick a bust at that position because of how different the pros and college skill are. Even though we grabbed Vaughn last year it wouldn’t be surprising if we drafted another this year.
I’m wondering if Pooka Williams gets lost a bit in this draft. Great hands, explosive runner. Played on terrible teams at KU. Would rather get someone like him or Felton 4th/5th than others earlier around where they “should” be drafted. Definitely hate the idea of moving up for anyone, but that tends to be my opinion on moving up.
Have a look at RB Max Borghi from Washington State.
He is small but he has great hands and caught a lot of balls in their pass happy offence. Really fun to watch. He would be a late rounder that is worth a look in my opinion. Ive seen some sites call him a poor man’s Christian McCaffrey…
Demetric Felton is another player I’m going to look at heavily as a 4th round option.
Brief look says he has a pretty robust signature of “passing game weapon.” I see a good route runner who appears to understand defender leverage and how to attack it, is smooth and explosive out of breaks, easily transitions to catch and RAC and makes people miss in space.
I put him at about # 10 Center in the league after his 2010 campaign.
There are a few specific analysts who are bearish on Jensen and it seems to be creating a bit of a fetishization of his play (I’ve seen this happen before and the public is particularly susceptible when its a “Jensen-type”). I’ve watched the tape of every_single_Jensen snap in the last 3 years. The idea that he is THE NUMBER ONE CENTER IN THE LEAGUE or even top 10 over the course of those 3 years is just not reality. Below is my +/- eval for him in 2020.
+ Jensen’s Run Blocking this year has been absolutely excellent.
+ His play in space on Screens and 2nd level climbs has been absolutely excellent.
+ Our entire OL and our iOL in particular is extremely good at handling Stunts/Loops. This is a credit to the Center.
* MIXED against the Blitz. He himself has been good against the blitz. But the entire OL/TE/RB group as a whole have had sufficient negative snaps (most of our Ints this year have come from blown protection against the blitz) that this could probably go -. Just like the above, the Center takes credit/blame here.
– But this is actually one of his worst years in Pass Protection that I can recall (after a huge bounce-back year last year) and it ironically coincides with snapping to one of the top OL Pass Pro friendly QBs in NFL history. Brady has covered up SO many bad Pass Pro reps by him this year. And despite covering up for many bad reps, he’s still had way too many bad Pass Pro snaps on tape despite having extremely good Guard play adjacent to him this year (which is a Center’s best friend). He’s given up the 8th most Pressures in the league. Only 5 other Centers in the entire NFL have given up more combined Sacks + Hits.
– Whether its him or Brady who is making the Inside Zone vs Duo blocking calls/Run Checks (could be both) vs Front isn’t clear to me, but we’ve had probably 10-12 occasions this year (just that I can recall) where that call vs Front has led to issues which directly led to assignment losses and play losses.
– He still has Snapping issues and has been rescued many times this year.
– 4 Penalties at the position isn’t bloody awful, but there are 19 Centers in this league who have 0-3 Penalties.
Sum told? Absolutely replaceable by a young, talented Center (we’ve had multiple come into the league the last several years…the NCAA cupboard isn’t bare when it comes to immediate impact Centers that can replace NFL counterparts). I don’t hate Jensen at all. I’ve grown to like him a fair bit. He’s a very solid football player. Those +es above? Those are a big deal. But again, he’s playing with one of the best Guards in the NFL and a very solid player in Cappa. That is a HUGE boon to a Center in the Run Game. The fact that his Pass Pro has been what its been is a huge let-down (particularly with Brady). I would order the best Centers in the league as the following (in order):
So about # 10 in the league (because Frederick had to leave the league and Pouncey, Paradis, Mack have fallen off in the least year…otherwise he’d be around 15ish). So if we need 10 million, my guess is that is where it comes from. If it comes down to keeping LVD, Godwin, and Barrett and working with a Rookie Center vs keeping Jensen? Well, that decision makes itself.
Jensen is paid at #7 Center Average Annual Value now so the return has changed considerably vs his initial signing when he was #1 AAV vs about #17-20 play.
But the issue is we have 30 players signed. We’re going to need to restructure Marpet/Evans to clear space again and then we still almost surely need Smith’s or Jensen’s money to retain LVD, Barrett, and Godwin.
I gotcha. I feel like that 31-32 range is easier to find a strong interior lineman than a strong edge rusher. Also curious how everyone feels about trey smith from Tennessee. He was an elite recruit out of high school.
I sure hope we don’t keep Jensen at the cost of losing any of the players you mentioned nobody.
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