PewterReport.com 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 PewterReport.com 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.
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.