To say the Buccaneers struggled running the ball last season would be an understatement. The Buccaneers thought that running the ball would be a strength after the success they had in 2016. Unfortunately, the offensive line struggled and Doug Martin was awful. Tampa Bay’s rushing attack ranked 26th in the league with 90.6/ypg. Let’s take a look at some running back prospects in this year’s draft that could help the Buccaneers in the 2018 season.
The best running back in this year’s draft is Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. The Penn State product is 5’11 223 pounds and runs a 4.4 40 yard dash. He exploded onto the scene this year for the Nittany Lions. Barkley is a can’t miss prospect. In the 2017 college football season, Barkley rushed for almost 1,300 yards and had 18 touchdowns. Barkley can also catch the ball recording 54 receptions, 632 yards, and 3 touchdowns. He has been compared to running backs like Ezekiel Elliot, Leonard Fournette, and Todd Gurley.
Next on the list of top running backs is Georgia’s Sony Michel. His 2017 campaign was almost as impressive as Saquon Barkley. Michel rushed for 1,227 yards and 16 touchdowns. Michel didn’t get as much of the media attention because he shared the backfield with guys like Nick Chubb, who is a beast all in his own. If teams miss out on the skills that Barkley brings to the field I don’t think you would be too disappointed with Sony Michel. If Michel didn’t split carries at Georgia we could very easily be talking about the best back in the draft statistically. He is projected as a 1st or 2nd round pick.
The third back we are going to talk about for the Buccaneers is Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson. This would not be the first time the Buccaneers have drafted an Auburn running back (Cadillac Williams). Kerryon Johnson has been described as a work horse by numerous people. In 2017, Johnson went for 1,391 yards on the ground with 18 touchdowns. He also caught 24 passes for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is projected as a 2nd or 3rd round pick, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes a little sooner.
The Buccaneers will probably use their early picks to shore up the offensive line, but if they pass on either of the offensive lineman from Notre Dame look for them to make a splash with a running back. We will see how everything plays out for the Buccaneers this off season. We have Peyton Barber, so we need to find someone to pair with him.
Edited by Morgan Adele