FAB 2. Swift, Taylor Lost In The RB Shuffle

Buccaneers fans who tuned into the College Football Playoffs saw a trio of talented running backs in Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins, LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Clemson’s Travis Etienne – any of which could help upgrade Tampa Bay’s struggling running game. Of the three junior rushers, Etienne returned to school, but Dobbins and Edwards-Helaire opted to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The 5-foot-10, 217-pound Dobbins had three straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Buckeyes, finishing with 4,459 yards and 38 touchdowns in his career, while averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Dobbins, who had 71 career receptions for 645 yards and five touchdowns, rushed for a career-best 2,003 yards and 21 TDs last year as a junior.

LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire – Photo by: Getty Images

Edwards-Helaire is slightly smaller at 5-foot-8, 209 pounds, but is just as hard to tackle. He didn’t enter 2019 with as much fanfare as Dobbins did, but Edwards-Helaire had a breakout junior season with 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging 6.6 yards per carry in helping LSU win a national title. Edwards-Helaire also showed phenomenal hands with 55 catches for 453 yards and one score.

Either Dobbins or Edwards-Helaire would look great in red and pewter and either push Ronald Jones II towards greatness or push him to the bench, but there are two other stellar junior running backs that have gotten overlooked since the end of the regular season. Had Georgia or Wisconsin made the playoffs instead of Oklahoma, D’Andre Swift or Jonathan Taylor would be getting more love from the draft media and the mock draft community because they would have been featured all over ESPN. Instead it was Dobbins and Edwards-Helaire

The 5-foot-9, 215-pound Swift had to bide his time behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and share carries last year with Elijah Holyfield, but became the feature back last year after rushing for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2018. Swift rushed for 1,218 yards and seven scores while averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

With 73 career catches for 666 yards and five touchdowns for the Bulldogs, Swift is a multi-purpose runner with a killer juke move similar to New Orleans Pro Bowler Alvin Kamara. Swift is versatile enough to play all three downs. Because of that, Swift’s skill set lends itself quite well to playing in Bruce Arians’ offense.

At 5-foot-11, 219 pounds, Taylor is a bigger back with tackle-breaking ability, breakaway speed and ridiculous production. He averaged 2,058 yards per season in his three years at Wisconsin. Taylor scored 50 touchdowns in his Badgers career while averaging 6.7 yards per carry.

Taylor wasn’t involved in the passing game much until his junior season in which he showed he could both pass protect and catch the ball. After catching a combined 16 passes for 155 yards in his first two years at Wisconsin, Taylor caught 21 passes for 252 yards and nine scores while showing off natural hands.

While Swift and Taylor might not be featured in many mock drafts, they are highly regarded in the NFL scouting community, and there is a chance that either back – or Dobbins – could go in the first round this year. As of right now, Swift appears in just one widely regarded first-round mock draft, going to Miami with the 18th overall pick in NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah’s initial mock draft.

Taylor appears in one, going 31st overall to Kansas City in The Draft Network’s Benjamin Solak’s latest first-round mock draft, while Dobbins in featured as the lone running back in three other TDN mock drafts from Joe Marino, Jonah Tuls and Jordan Reid.

So when projecting running backs to the Bucs, don’t get too focused on Dobbins and Edwards-Helaire and forget about Swift and Taylor. One of those backs should be available to Tampa Bay if it wants to draft a running back in the second round.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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Wausa

If what you are saying is accurate then the Bucs should adjust their offense to a more balanced attack, put the transition tag on Jamies and draft a developmental QB in the middle rounds of the draft.

If the Bucs do not sign or tag Jamies it is fairly obvious he will be signed quickly by another franchise if he hits the open market.

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matador

Hopefully someone within our division. That would help our DB’s stats more than a strong pash rush

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BigSombrero

If the Bucs cut bait with Jameis, I hope they bring in a smart veteran who has a strong accurate arm. Maybe they can trade for Ben Rothlisberger. He’s played in a Bruce Arians offense. If the Bucs draft the 4th best tackle in the 1st round with plans to switch him from left to right tackle and the 4th or 5th best RB in the 2nd, who here expects the running game to turn the corner? I say take the pick and use it on a guy who immediately improves the W/L column. The Bucs can get the #1… Read more »

BigSombrero

I value production over projection. Specific players I favor for the Bucs at 14 are #2 DE Gross-Matos, #1 RB J.Taylor, #2 DT Kinlaw, and #1 S Grant Delpit in that order.

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tbb345

IF a large chunk of Arians decision on Jameis is based off of one play in a meaningless game where his top 2 targets were missing (let alone the fact that he was showing toughness by playing through a thumb injury) then this franchise has very, very serious problems with its evaluation process.

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matador

What if it’s based on five years of killing his team’s chances with blockheaded turnovers? Then what would you think?

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CrackerBall

I think 72 games is a large enough sample size…

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awwdembucs

Alot of guessing here. I think we as fan’s will know more after we see what the Bucs do in FA.

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Badtimes

I think Arians started having misgivings about Winston well before the last game.

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Brandonges

After three straight years of drafting Safety, please bring in a vet. There are a lot of free agents available who should come relatively cheap. This draft should be all about getting younger and cheaper in both of the trenches.

Also, as a homer, surprised Cam Akers isn’t generating more buzz. He carried the FSU offense behind a garbage line. He has good hands and looks like a 3 down back built for today’s NFL.

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CrackerBall

Agreed… I think we have drafted enough S, and DBs in general, over the last few years – so sign a F/A if you feel the need. Gotta try and make’em work. Save that valuable draft capital for OL, DL, QB, etc.

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Horse

Good Fab 5 Scott. Is it possible all the pewterreport staff when discussing players, who are not Buccaneers, be consistent in listing their height and weight?.

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The Wall

Top four needs; right tackle, right guard, running back, then safety.

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EastEndBoy

1) “Licht shouldn’t have re-signed him at all”…another Licht gaff. 2) Safety??…good grief, how many swings at the plate is Licht going to get before he’s called out. 3) “move Donovan Smith to RT”…he couldn’t do worse than at LT, but $14.5m for a RT is insane. Licht has backed us into a corner with this problem. 4) and finally, why is the conclusion that a team can’t win with a young QB? Why do we have to bring in a veteran if we don’t want Winston? Goff as a rookie won 9 games (and in year 2 went to… Read more »

Horse

EastEndBoy, so agree with you.

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Brandonges

Agree, especially on the last point. Lamar Jackson is probably going to win MVP in his second season. Plenty of teams have found success with young QBs.

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DonkeyHunter

Agree with all this.

And, can we PLEASE stop with this “move Smith to RT” nonsense?

It’s about as ridiculous as the “Draft a RB in the 1st Round” nonsense.

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FinkleisEinhorn

#2: I agree with the comment above. Very surprised at the lack of chatter on Cam Akers, especially considering PR’s ties to FSU. This guy is a monster and was FSU’s entire offense. If he had played for LSU, he’d be talked about as a 1st round pick. Grab him the 3rd and don’t look back.

#3: The thing I’m most impressed with Dugger? He actually specified his weaknesses when asked. Shows maturity, humility and self-awareness.

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Horse

I agree about Cam Akers, but he’s going to be picked up in the second round not the third.

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Horse

Those of you who voted negatives I didn’t watch FSU games like I did reminds me of many other successful running backs that have played in the NFL. He’s strong quick and fast and can catch a ball. I hope he stays under the radar so we can grab him. FSU has not had a good offensive line these last 3 years and he still did good; think about that as it’s similar to the Bucs.

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awwdembucs

Horse Akers can play, he’s tough as nails and can catch well also. The thing is nobody seems to know what round to draft him.

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Alldaway 2.0

Bucs are better off re-signing AA then drafting another green safety that will not start next season and will ride the pine.

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Buc-Up

When I was at FSU I took a Seminole Conditioning Class by the team’s strength coach in Soring ’91. I worked out with both Casey Weldon and Brad Johnson. I was way underwhelmed by Casey’s spare tire and lack of physique. He was in no way intimidating and seemed like an asshat! Brad was tall and built like a brick house, plus a very nice guy!

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Horse

After NFL, Weldon was a Head Coach for one of the High Schools in Tallahassee; because of anger issues had to be let go. He knows football but back then he hadn’t dealt with his anger issues yet. I hope he addressed it. Mark Cook do you know?

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MIArmysoldier

Scott- I remember Casey Weldon comming to my scool in Bradenton in ’96. I remember him being extremely cocky and arrogant. He was supposed to be there to give a talk on self motivation and being a team player. It basically was him talking about absolutely nothing nothing, he threw a few passes to couple of people and ended with him takung a few pics for our yearbook. The only time he really even smiled was when those pics were taken- but no guys were in the pics- it was him surrounded by a group of teenage girls a giggly… Read more »

awwdembucs

I watched the east west game. The QB Morgan looked good. Strong arm can run if need be. If he is still on the board 5th or 6th. The Bucs might want to think about him. He needs some good coaching but stranger things have happened. Just a Thought

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owlykat

Get a first round LT. Moving D. Smith to RT would be a disaster since speed rushers would have as much of a hay day on the right side as they presently do from the left side. Move him to RG and let Cappa start at RT.

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Bucsfan1983

Wirfs, Dobbins, Dugger, are my first 3 picks for the Bucs. I would be beyond thrilled for these three.

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David DeLeon

Bucs higher up need to have their poker face on. “Winston we are not sure we want you” wait till close to deadline and try to hustle on the price tag.

Instead of 30 million we sign him for 26-28 million.

Everyone is happy

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