PewterReport.com analyzes the top players in the 2019 NFL Draft with its position previews. Taylor Jenkins 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 Scott Reynolds 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 currently enter 2019 with a similar running back room to what they had last year, with the exception of a few pieces here and there. Peyton Barber was the lead back last year, rushing for a career-high 871 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 3.7 yards per carry, and according to Bruce Arians, will likely serve that same role this year. Arians has repeatedly come out in support of Barber and that will probably lead to him taking a slight uptick in his workload this year, if he can continue to produce and improve. As far as a third down or pass-catching back, Dirk Koetter had his trusty, reliable back in Jacquizz Rodgers, whom Tampa Bay didn’t re-sign, and Arians has brought in his own version of that in former Cardinals rusher Andre Ellington.
Behind the two lead backs are last year’s second-round pick, Ronald Jones, who will need to take a big step forward in a new offense this year after totaling just 44 yards on 23 carries (1.9 avg.) and scoring one touchdown, as well as Dare Ogunbowale and Shaun Wilson. Ogunbowale spent most of their time in 2018 on the practice squad, while Wilson went on injured reserve in November. Both were able to get a little bit of regular season work as kick returners. Wilson also added five carries for 29 yards and three receptions for five yards.
What The Bucs Need At Running Back
The Bucs’ need at the running back position is in a little bit of a limbo. Barber may not be the running back of the future in Tampa Bay, but Arians has liked what he’s seen on tape and he was given a one-year deal that will keep him in Tampa Bay through at least the 2019 season.
After Barber the next back on the depth chart will all likely come down to production. Arians brought in Ellington because he’s a back he trusts and Ellington that knows the offensive scheme. However, Ellington is also getting up in age at 30 years old and hasn’t rushed for more than 2.8 yards per carry since 2015. Jones is in a make-it-or-break-it year. After being the Bucs’ second-round selection in last year’s draft, he fell flat in his rookie year. He was never able to build momentum in the preseason and that led to a regular season where he averaged an abysmal 1.9 yards per carry.
The Bucs may still be in search of that game-changing running back, and the could find one in this year’s draft. Because Barber is on a one-year deal, Ellington is 30 and Jones may be a bust, Tampa Bay may have to spend a Day 2 or Day 3 pick on a multi-purpose running back that can rush and catch the ball in Arians’ offense – and one that can break off long runs, as the Bucs’ longest carry of the year in 2018 was just 28 yards.
This year’s PewterReport.com’s 2019 Draft Previews + Bucs’ Best Bets and Draft Videocast are presented by Edmonson Electric & Security – the official smart home and security company of PewterReport.com.
Watch Pewter Reporters Scott Reynolds, Mark Cook, Taylor Jenkins and Matt Matera, as well as other special guests, live on-air via PewterReport.com from the team’s headquarters at One Buccaneer Place beginning on Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft at 7:00 p.m. ET.
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