PewterReport.com analyzes the top players in the 2020 NFL Draft with its position previews. Mark Cook previews the running back position with a comprehensive look at what the Bucs have and what they need at running back, a detailed list of this year’s top running back, 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

Table of Contents

Once you get past Ronald Jones II, there isn’t a lot in the Bucs’ running back stable. The team allowed Peyton Barber to leave in free agency without an offer from Tampa Bay, so it was clear the team is ready to look for an upgrade at the position. Behind Jones, the only two backs with any experience are Dare Ogunbowale and T.J. Logan. Aca’Cedric Ware is also currently on the roster, but the team will need to add more bodies and talent.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Jones looked like a bust in 2018 as a rookie, but showed much improvement last season under Bruce Arians and running backs coach Todd McNair. Jones led the Bucs in rushing with 724 yards and six touchdowns, and had his best game of the season in the season-ending loss to the Falcons. In that game Jones had his first career 100-yard rushing effort, finishing with 106 yards on 11 carries. Jones also improved his hands, catching 31 passes for 309 yards in 2019.

Logan was the team’s primary kick returner until an injury cut his season short in Week 12. Logan only had three carries for 10 yards.

What The Bucs Need At Running Back

While Tampa Bay is excited about what Jones can do, there are still some question marks if he can be a 20-plus touch featured back. While he averaged 4.2 yards per carry in 2019, Jones only averaged 12 touches per game. Part of the low number was the team’s distribution, as Jones and Barber split carries for much of the season. Jones also got in Arians’ doghouse a couple times last season after missing blocks that resulted in sacks, including one against the Jaguars that resulted in a turnover.

The Bucs would like to add another player to combine with Jones for a solid 1-2 punch and also be a better receiver out of the backfield, The good news for Tampa Bay is the 2020 NFL Draft is a loaded class for running backs with several that could fit in Arians’ offense and compete with Jones for touches. Giving new quarterback Tom Brady a better running game than Tampa Bay had in 2019 appears to be a priority in this year’s draft.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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thegeebo
1 year ago

It there a scenario where Cam Akers gets drafted before our pick in the 3rd? I’m wondering if the 2nd round will have a run on running backs that sees Swift, Taylor, Dobbins, CEH, and Akers come off the board before we pick in the 3rd round. I think the most likely to be remaining in the 3rd is Moss, who I like, but not nearly as much as CEH and Akers. I think CEH is worth it in the 2nd round, to give Brady his dump-off guy. If CEH is already gone at 45, then I would consider taking… Read more »

chefboho
Reply to  thegeebo
1 year ago

I like your thinking here. I just see a second round purge on RB’s. I even think Ackers will go by the end of the second. I don’t know enough about Dobbins but he always seemed like a complete back to me, but has kind of fallen quiet due to not being able to perform at the combine. Either way I hope the Bucs man one in either the second or third at the latest. There’s plenty of talent this year.

awwdembucs
1 year ago

IMO CEH is the best RB for the Bucs.

jrwilson85
1 year ago

Mark, Cam Akers never makes the 4th round imo. Most drafts show him in the 2nd or 3rd round. He may be a steal in the 3rd too. The guy had a horrible O-line in front of him and was still productive. I’m a Gator fan, but I don’t deny talent. Akers will be better as a pro than he was in college.

Dave
Reply to  jrwilson85
1 year ago

My dream first 3 round scenario would be 1) A.Thomas. 2)A.Davis. 3)C.Akers. But I have a feeling we can’t get all 3. I think Akers goes in the 2nd, same with A.Davis.

jrwilson85
1 year ago

I think Taylor is awesome but he fumbles a little. I think Dobbins could wind up being the best back in this draft, he has skills and speed. What is not to like about Helaire? I also like Zack Moss and Antonio Gibson. I think AJ Dillon is under rated.

BucWonder
1 year ago

I really like CEH. I could see the Bucs taking him at #45 or even moving up to get him. I think he’s a great immediate fit for the Brady Bucs. Really looking forward to the 3 days of the draft. Not long now.

Go Bucs!.

jrwilson85
Reply to  BucWonder
1 year ago

I agree on CEH. But as deep as this draft is I hope the Bucs don’t do any trading up for any player. I have been doing mock drafts on NFL network and they show how difficult it is to get exactly what you want. I was listening to Daniel Jeremiah saying that one different pick can change the entire ebb and flow of a round.

jrwilson85
Reply to  BucWonder
1 year ago

Example 1: This time out, all 4 of the top 4 OT are gone. 1-14 Jerry Jeudy WR Ala 2-45 JK Dobbins RB Ohio ST 3-76 Robert Hunt IOL Louisiana 4-117 Ben Bartch OT St John 4-139 Alton Robinson Edge Syracuse 5-161 Geno Stone S Iowa 6-194 Alex Taylor OT SC State

Dave
Reply to  jrwilson85
1 year ago

As a whole I like this draft. But I’d swap out Robert Hunt for A.Davis if he was still there in the 3rd round. And I like Bartch a lot

jrwilson85
Reply to  BucWonder
1 year ago

Example 2: Miraculously and I mean miraculously the guy many consider the best of the big 4 falls to the Bucs at 14. No brainer. 1-14 Jedrick Wills OT Ala 2-45 Ross Blacklock IDL TCU 3-76 Jeremy Chinn S So Ill 4-117 Lynn Bowden WR KY 4-139 AJ Dillon BC 5-161 Michael Onwenu IOL Michigan 6-194 Alex Taylor OT SC State

jrwilson85
Reply to  BucWonder
1 year ago

Example 3: I let the computer auto pick for the Bucs. 1-14 Jedrick Wills OT ala 2-45 JK Dobbins RB Ohio State 3-76 Chase Claypool WR Notre Dame 4-117 Hunter Bryant TE Washington 4-139 Joe Bachin Jr LB Mich State 5-161 Julian Blackburn S Utah 6-194 Dane Jackson CB Pitt. Don’t understand the TE pick. Maybe they know something we don’t know. Could the Bucs be trading a TE? It’s above my pay grade.

BigSombrero
1 year ago

This is a sensible list. Taylor will go in the 1st round and Tampa may be committed to drafting another position of higher importance like…wait, is there a position of higher importance?

Oh well, if another team takes Taylor ahead of the Bucs at 14, then hopefully Jason Licht will trade down and draft Josh Jones, Chaisson, or Gross-Matos.

DerLutz
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

It’s the year 2020. Why are you so focused on drafting Taylor that early? His value in the passing game is way to low.
There are so many positions that have more value than RB. CMC had an awesome season last year, but no team success. Look at Barkley in NY. Or the other way around with the 49ers or the Chiefs.

Dave
Reply to  DerLutz
1 year ago

DerLutz. That’s the $64K question lol. This dude is so adamant on the Bucs reaching for a RB by roughly 25 picks lol. His average ADP is near 40. Even if Taylor was hands down the best RB in this class(which he’s not, most think it’s Swift), he’s still not an elite or game changing back. There are no elite, game changing backs in this draft. There’s some good ones for sure. Taylor is solid. But not a game changer, and not worth a top 15 pick. He’s not even a 1st rounder. No RB is this year.

awwdembucs
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Dave I wish I could give you 12 thumbs up.

Dave
Reply to  awwdembucs
1 year ago

Appreciate it dude

BigSombrero
Reply to  DerLutz
1 year ago

I have watched pocket QB’s succeed. The common thread of Big Ben, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Dante Culpepper, etc, is they had a bellcow RB who could stay on the field for all 3 downs. That sells the play action and freezes linebackers.

When you look at KC and San FRan, they have mobile QB’s. They present a totally different challenge because the QB is creating on the fly. I guarantee you that this team will be more successful if they have a strong running back.

Dave
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

Really? Because the Pats have used RBBC for years in NE. And they’ve been the most dominant dynasty in the history of sports. Lol the days of having 1 RB on the field for every snap or 90% of them are mostly over. And the ones that do, sure don’t lead to any success. All the bell cow teams from last year were all non playoff teams. In 2020, you’re best served with multiple backs that can catch and run, and it keeps them both fresh, and doesn’t make you one dimensional in the process

drdneast
1 year ago

The video of Akers certainly makes him look like at least a second round pick but then again it is supposed to. What can;t be denied is the young man doesn’t lack the fortitude to mix it up in in the middle and the speed to take it outside. He also seems to have excellent balance and the ability to shed tackles. He sure looks a lot better than Charles Simms who never seemed to have the fortitude to make one cut and take the ball up inside for a three or four yard gain. He was always juking around… Read more »

Spitfire
1 year ago

I would take Taylor if we moved back in the first or if he was still there in the 2nd. His drops are worrisome but a pro program should hopefully help him with that. He does seem like a sturdy solid back but the details on his one deme duo also game might not make him the best choice. CEH is tiny but Warrick Dunn was small and so are most these other backs and I would take Warrick Dunn back then on the team right now no question. CEH is 2 in shorter and only and in shorter than… Read more »

Spitfire
Reply to  Spitfire
1 year ago

I kinda like Cam Akers in the 3rd or 4th if they don’t get someone in the 1st or 2nd.

Dave
Reply to  Spitfire
1 year ago

Yeah, reading everything I’ve been reading, the 4th is a long shot. I think we’re hoping and praying to be able to get him in the 3rd. Which would allow us to grab A.Davis in the 2nd

Spitfire
Reply to  Dave
1 year ago

Holly cow, just researched S Ashtyn Davis, is that who you’re talking about? He’s a tall safety with speed and changes directions well and hits freakin hard AND returns kicks? Track star and seems to have a nose for the ball! I’ll take him! Haha

Dave
Reply to  Spitfire
1 year ago

Dude he’s a beast. My original mock draft a few weeks ago I wanted him in round 3 or 4. But he’s really soaring up draft boards. I think we’d be lucky to even get him in the 3rd now. So for us to come away with one of the big 4 tackles, Akers, CEH, or Dobbins, and A.Davis, we’d have to get lucky. Because all the RB’s I like, and Davis are soaring up draft boards the past week. We’ll see though. If we can nab all 3 without a trade, I’d be extremely happy

matador
1 year ago

Here we are again redrafting Bust Licht’s prior drafts. Yet it doesn’t seem to register with anyone at OBP.

Sims was the rare running back who couldn’t run; while RoJo has potential he hasn’t proven himself a reliable complete back.

Heck what are high draft picks for? Time to throw yet another 2nd/3rd round pick on the barbie, don’t worry Licht will finally figure it out. Next time…

TBAtlas
1 year ago

Tfw Mark Cook put out a better positional ranking than the resident scout lol. Good work to both writers though!

DerLutz
1 year ago

CEH would be the perfect fit. He is the only RB that could have the value (player, position, team need) here! Maybe Swift too. In the worst-case scenario with CEH and Swift are gone I would consider only drafting a pure Receiving Back later because Akers has the same problem with Blitz pickups like RoJo

Dave
Reply to  DerLutz
1 year ago

No he doesn’t. Akers is a solid blocker. Not as good as Dobbins, but not considered a weakness by any means

Bucsfan1983
1 year ago

C’mon man! Moss over Akers? Akers is a top 5 back. He also won’t be there in round 4.

Alldaway 2.0
1 year ago

This class is deep that if you wait till the 4th round you are going to add a quality back to the mix. Bucs don’t need to draft a RB in round 1 or 2 IMO.

Dave
Reply to  Alldaway 2.0
1 year ago

Ehhh I don’t know man. The past week, all the sleeper round 2/3 backs are soaring up draft boards(Dobbins, Akers, and CEH) it’s gonna be interesting to see where these guys fall now. We may have to take one of them in round 2, because they may not be there in round 3. Hole I’m wrong

revfish
1 year ago

Just an observation: interesting to note the different take on swift between Mark and John. Am curious to see what happens as he or Helaire seems to be who we will pick in the second round. Mark loves him it looks like, while John Lenyard is skeptical

Dave
Reply to  revfish
1 year ago

Swift won’t be there when we pick at 45. That I’m pretty confident in. I’d love to get Akers, Dobbins or CEH in round 3, but we may to take one a round earlier to not run the risk of not getting any of them

DT25
1 year ago

Like most here I don’t think Akers is available in the 4th. I know he’s a tweener but I would say the best bet rounds 4-7 would be Antonio Gibson, who fits the mold as the type of receiving back Arians has said he wants to compliment RoJo. Arians has said he wants someone he can move around the formation and work in the slot like he did with David Johnson, which is exactly the type of player Gibson was at Memphis. I think Edwards Helaire is option 1…but if he’s taken ahead of our pick in the 2nd round… Read more »

surferdudes
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

Taylor’s numbers are impressive, but Wisc is a run first team, with a massive always well coached O line. They beat the hell out of their backs. Taylor IMO is not worth the 14th overall pick. I’ve seen what a little beast CEH is playing big against SEC competition. Would rather have him then Taylor. I think we should pick up a load at RB later in the draft to give us a good complement in the backfield.

Dave
Reply to  DT25
1 year ago

If that happened to be the case, I have no problem drafting Moss in the 4th to be the power back to RJ, and picking up C.Thompson as a FA as our 3rd down receiving back

Bradenton BucFan
1 year ago

Cam Akers does the most with the least consistently,that is the dude you want to play with.I would take him with the 45th pick. If he can get Thomas or Beachan in 1st rd & Cam 45th. We will still need a safety,guard,WR,DT,& possibly a QB & CB.I would Bpa those positions for rd 3 thru 6 & free agency.

Dave
Reply to  Bradenton BucFan
1 year ago

Exactly dude! 100% agree

Bucko40
1 year ago

I really don’t have a preference this year. There are 6 RB in this draft that I think could contribute to the Bucs. The one 2 punch of Jonathan Taylor and RoJo would be fun to watch. Swift has burst and great field vision IMO. I like Dobbins as the best blocking RB that can break a long gainer also. CEH does everything well. And Akers and Moss are cut from the same cloth. Fumble issues can be coached up with Taylor, just ask Tiki Barber. The kid outta Boston College AJ Dillon late would be a nice addition. He… Read more »

martinii
1 year ago

Enjoyed the description of each player. Agree Buc’s will pick one early but I don’t think Ackers will make it to the 4th RD. Anyone would be an upgrade but being an Ohio State Alum I am partial to Dobbins.. He is a 3 down back.

BadgerW4
1 year ago

Lack of opportunities for Taylor? Holy crap!!! He had 65 targets and 8 drops and couldn’t pass protect to save his soul (5 pressures in 60 snaps), and THIS is the guy you have ranked as the best? I just can’t fathom JL and BA being that stupid as to taking a 2 down back when we already HAVE a 2 down back. I also don’t know where you’re getting your numbers on his fumbles. PFF lists him as having 17 fumbles in 3 years, not 15. I’m sure Taylor will make a great RB for a team who wants… Read more »

Dave
Reply to  BadgerW4
1 year ago

Dude I couldn’t have said it better myself. 1000% agree!