When it comes to the Bucs and their best draft fits, there are a ton of options at running back.
The position has officially been deemed as a “luxury pick” thanks to quartet of Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, Ke’Shawn Vaugh and the recently-acquired Giovani Bernard.
So, who would the Bucs take if they do decide to select a running back?
Let’s find out.
1. RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina Tar Heels
Projected Selection: Rounds 1-2
Williams is one of the most complete running backs in the draft. He’s a powerful runner who frequently breaks tackles, yet also has the elusiveness to makes defenders miss in the open field. When it comes to the Bucs’ best draft fits, he easily makes the top of the list.
His collegiate career ended with 2,297 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns on 366 attempts, which came out to an electric 6.3 yards per carry. His production increased each year, culminating into a fantastic junior year for the Tar Heels. Williams finished with 1,140 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns while averaging a career-high 7.3 yards per carry. He was effective catching passes out of the backfield, as well. 2020 saw Williams finish with 25 receptions for 305 yards and three receiving touchdowns.
And this was all accomplished while splitting time with fellow running back, Michael Carter.
Williams is an above-average prospect in terms of pass protection which should help him see the field early in his NFL career. With Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette both in a contract year, the Buccaneers could see the luxury of drafting their replacement early in the draft.
2. RB Michael Carter, North Carolina Tar Heels
Projected Selection: Rounds 3-4
Carter is not as complete a player as Williams, but he has all the skills to become a very good back at the next level. He excels as a pass-catcher out of the backfield and can run inside and outside. He possesses great vision and burst; and his elusiveness makes him a slippery player to tackle.
However, his small frame will most likely limit him from becoming a feature back in the NFL. Carter projects more as a rotational back in a committee at the next level. That should be fine for Tampa Bay, considering how they used RoJo and Fournette in 2020.
3. RB Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis Tigers
Projected Selection: Rounds 3-4
Gainwell has tremendous upside at the position despite having only year of production.
He shows great vision, burst and footwork getting through the hole. Gainwell also has terrific hands and is versatile enough to line up in the slot. He is elusive in open space and is an effective blocker.
Gainwell could stand to gain some bulk on what is a lean frame, which will help with the hits he will absorb in the NFL. The one year of production could be a reason he slips further than his talent dictates, but at worst, he should be an effective situational back with offensive versatility. Having Fournette, Rojo, Bernard, and Vaughn on the roster will give Gainwell time to bulk up while learning the nuances of the game.
4. RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Projected Selection: Rounds 4-5
Hubbard was very productive for the Cowboys and finished as one of the most prolific runners in school’s history. He would’ve likely been deemed as one of the Bucs’ best draft fits if he entered the NFL last year.
Patient with great field vision he has exceptional burst once he finds the open hole. He has a good ability to work through traffic, change direction, cut, and quickly reach top speed. Hubbard is an adequate pass-catcher, but he sometimes fights the ball while making receptions, which can lead to drops.
He could also stand to get better as a pass protector. Hubbard is more of a north-and-south runner and a bellcow, just look at this stat line: He piled up 585 carries over his 2-1/2 years at Oklahoma State.
Hubbard reminds me of Jones a bit where he can do the work in the running game, but must improve all other facets before becoming a complete runner. Still, Hubbard projects to be a rotational running back in a committee, at worst.
5. RB/WR Demetric Felton UCLA Bruins
Projected Selection: Rounds 5-6
Felton is a hybrid player at the next level. A dynamic pass-catcher out of the backfield, Felton can also line up in the slot and is an elusive runner with the ball in his hands. With great vision, instincts and patience to let blocks develop, Felton is always working to churn out positive yardage. He may not have the size to be an every-down-back or a true receiver, so the Bucs will have to figure out how to get the most out of him.
Felton best projects as a versatile, committee back who can be used as a gadget player all over the field. The Bucs can employ him in a multitude of ways and add another weapon to an already loaded offense.
Who do you think suits the Bucs as a best draft fit at running back? Let us know in the comments below?