analyzes the top players in the 2018 NFL Draft with its position previews. Scott Reynolds previews the running back position with a comprehensive look at what the Bucs have and what they need in the backfield, a detailed list of this year’s top running backs and offers up the annual Bucs’ Best Bets – one early round pick, and a pick from the later rounds.

What The Bucs Have At Running Back

The Buccaneers have just three running backs on the roster following the departure of Doug Martin and Charles Sims, including the team’s leading rushers in each of the last two years, Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers. The problem is that neither Barber nor Rodgers is a dynamic back capable of turning in a 1,200-yard season. Most NFL observers might think that Barber is an ideal No. 3 running back, but the Bucs actually view him more favorably as a No. 2 back after he ran for a team-high 423 yards and three touchdowns on 108 carries (3.9 avg.).

Tampa Bay head coach Dirk Koetter noted how Rodgers served as his third-down back in Atlanta, and could return to that role this year to replace Sims. Rodgers rushed for 244 yards and one touchdown on 64 carries (3.8 avg.). The third running back on the roster is newcomer Dalton Crossan, a first-year player from New Hampshire. While he’s a long-shot to make the team, the same could have been said about Barber when he was an undrafted free agent out of Auburn two years ago.

What The Bucs Need At Running Back

Tampa Bay could use a dose of speed in the backfield, as both Barber and Rodgers are more quick than fast. Barber has 4.59 speed, and while Rodgers was timed at 4.52 when he left college, it doesn’t seem like he’s that fast any more after spending seven years in the NFL. The Bucs could use a big-time playmaker at running back – a feature back-type runner to work with Barber to carry the load. Tampa Bay would love to see Penn State running back Saquon Barkley fall to No. 7 where it is believed the team would snatch up him in a heartbeat. The Bucs also like a plethora of Round 2 running backs, including Georgia’s Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, USC’s Ronald Jones II and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny.

Grambling State RB Martez Carter - Photo by: Getty Images
Grambling State RB Martez Carter – Photo by: Getty Images

Without a third-round pick the Bucs may be forced to select one in the second round, or trade up to acquire one in the third round. Keep an eye on North Carolina State’s Nyheim Hines. The Bucs like him a lot, and despite not being a big back that can carry the load, he’s the fastest running back in the draft and can form a nice one-two punch with Barber. Look for Tampa Bay to possibly select two running backs in the draft, including one in the final rounds that could serve as competition to Rodgers for the third-down back role. Fordham’s Chase Edmonds, Southern Miss’ Ito Smith, who played under offensive coordinator Todd Monken in college, and Grambling State’s Martez Carter are candidates.

Click Page 2 For The RB Rankings

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  1. Plenty of avenues available to address our RB needs. Assume the Bucs will draft a top-end RB to compete with Barber. There will probably be a few solid FA’s that become available after the draft and during preseason that could compete with Rodgers for the 3rd RB slot if the team decides to use the later round picks to address needs elsewhere. Though it seems this years draft offers some solid late round RB options as well.

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  2. This draft looks very good at the RB position. Bucs need at least one maybe 2. I still like Barber he can get the 3 to 5 tough yards for a 1st down and around the goal line. IMO GO BUCS!!

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  3. I see a heck of a lot more of a Charles Sims like back than a Warrick Dunn like back in Nyheim Himes. Sure he has 4.38 speed, but he has very poor lateral Agility, actually looks like he struggles to gets east/ west with any kind of suddeness. I just don’t see very much shiftyness out of him, which is concerning considering that a guy who stands at 5’8 197 should be be far more elusive than he appears to be.

    I’d much rather get a guy like Rashaad Penny or Kerryon Johnson.

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    • Yeah, Darren Sproles was shorter and smaller and also had that kind of short-legged munchkin stiffness in his running style too. He could make some jukes, but nothing outstanding in his lateral movement. Although once he found a lane he would use his speed to devastating effect.

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    • Good article:

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    • I think Darren Sproles was an incredibly shifty All-purpose Scat Back, especially in his early years with the Chargers, and he had a lot more lateral mobility and than you are giving him credit. I don’t see Sproles when I watch Himes either.

      Tarik Cohen is probably the closest Sproles comp I’ve ever seen.

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  4. I’m really liking Kerryon Johnson not only as a guy who can produce very successfully in the NFL, but I also like the fact that we can potentially get him a little bit later and address other needs first. A trade down would be critical to make this happen, with a potential extra mid-2nd rounder coming our way as a result. So, with our trade-down 1st and original 2nd round picks we would focus on CB, EDGE, DT, or G, and pick 2 from a litter of great players from Jaire Alexander, Mike Hughes, Josh Jackson, Isaiah Oliver, Harold Landry, Marcus Davenport, Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne, Isiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, Etc.

    Then, with that extra mid-2nd round pick we get from the trade down we get Kerryon Johnson.

    A second RB in the 7th round would be ideal, and Ito Smith is someone I really like out of that group, but if he Martez and Chase are all gone by then, we could also take a look at the FSU back we had in for a visit, Ryan Green, as a potential Sims replacement. Now, if in the trade down we can muster an additional late 3rd/early 4th rounder, I wouldn’t mind adding a guy like Nyheim Hines as our 3rd down back, who could also play as a 3-down back in a pinch.

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  5. This draft will be a big disappointment for me if we don’t get one of the top 5 (Barkley, Guice, Michel, Chubb, Jones). We passed last year on one of the best running back drafts to date, and this one is not far behind. We can’t afford to miss again

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    • I hear ya! I’ve watched all of these guys, as I’m sure you have too. I fear Barkley for all of his physical traits, athleticism, and college production may end up with Reggie Bush production when all is said and done, and I don’t want to risk a high 1st round pick on him.

      As for Guice, he is right up there with Kerryon for me. Guice has that angry running style. As has been mentioned, Guice is similar to Marshawn Lynch in that he has that kind of crab legged running style, which really helps him change direction aggressively while on the move. It’s not that Le’Veon Bell kind of fluid lateral movement, that’s where Kerryon Jonhson comes in, and will offer the same angry running style, but with more fluidity in his moves, and he is also a great receiver out of the back field and is a tremendous blocking back as well, not to mention that he has elite ball security:

      I just feel like both Guice and Johnson will be much more productive in the NFL than will Barkley. Their angry running, hitting, keeping their balance, and keep running style will translate much more effectively into the NFL than Barkley’s. Rashaad Penny is also up in this category of running style, but he is strictly a north-south guy, and he has a some question marks when it comes to pass pro.

      Only thing is that Guice will likely be gone in the first round, so we are hunting for best value somewhere in the second round.

      Chubb, Michel, and Jones are also very good, but I think Guice, Johnson, and Penny are just more complete 3rd down backs. With Guice likely being gone I would take Johnson over Penny. But not at #38, we need an additional 2nd rounder on a trade down to make that pick later in the 2nd round and get two additional picks before him.

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      • Yes, but what if we trade down and then he is not there anymore?? Then we are right in the same boat as last year, where we wait and wait on a RB until we feel there is good value, while picking other positions where the perceived value is better. Then, in the 5th or 6th round, we finally take the flier on the RB that we feel might have the best chance to stick with the team, but he turns out to be a 5th or 6th round talent, and probably doesn’t even make the team. Then our RB situation is still right where we started. No, I think we absolutely HAVE to get a RB in the first 2 rounds, or in the 3rd at the latest(if we somehow acquire a pick). I really worry who might be available if we wait until after the 2nd, especially since we currently have no 3rd round pick.

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        • Yes, agreed! That’s why I mentioned getting him in the middle of the 2nd round. I’m thinking of a trade down with either Buffalo or Arizona in the first, which would garner us at least either the #47 or #52 pick. Those are more than reasonable spots for Johnson, and if there is a run on RBs before our original 2nd round pick (or if we don’t get a trade down offer in the 1st round) I wouldn’t hesitate to grab him at #38.

          For me, he checks all of the boxes on the field as a player that can successfully translate and produce in the NFL, and from what I’ve seen is probably right behind Saquon on the professionalism/personality scale (i.e. easy to work with/big heart/sharp). YMMV.

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  6. Lucky for us, arguably our biggest need is also a big plus in this draft. To be honest, I don’t watch college football so my assessments are all based off of the scouting done by PR and fellow posters here.

    There’s been a lot of talk about a trade down in the first for a quarterback needy team. This is still our best option in my opinion as we have more holes than picks. Depending on our trade partner, we could still land James, Ward, or McGlichey in the first and gain additional picks.

    A trade down in the 2nd also seems feasible, especially if our #1 RB is already gone. The depth at RB seems to be good enough that we can still land a good one in the mid to late 2nd or early 3rd if the guy we really want is gone at #38.

    Heck, if Licht can pull off a trade back in both rounds we’d have all the ammunition we need to fill all our holes. I’m no draft expert, but it looks like we’ll be in good position to fill our major voids this year.

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