Buccaneers’ Options At Running Back
By James Yarcho
There are a few different directions the Buccaneers could go in to solve their running back issue. Which one will work the best?
There’s a gaping hole on this team. One so big a running back would be able to run through untouched. Problem is, there is no one to run the ball through that hole. So what exactly are the Buccaneers going to do about it?
Well, there are a few options. It’s not as cut and dry as “draft one in the first round”, however that is a possibility. So here’s what the Bucs are looking at;
Draft A Running Back At 19
This is obviously the most popular choice among Buccaneers fans, especially when the name Dalvin Cook arises among Florida State fans who have a tendency to be a bit bias when it comes to the draft. They seem to feel that their players are always the best ones available and are very loud about it from December until draft weekend. That being said, I personally do believe Cook is the best back in this draft – sans Joe Mixon and the concerns that come with him – but there is a very, very high likelihood Cook isn’t there at 19.
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So, do the Bucs settle for Christian McCaffery if he’s sitting there at their pick? Possibly, although it seems like a bit of a reach. Many people are enamored with McCaffery’s big play potential, but he isn’t exactly a three down back which makes taking him in the first a bit of a reach in my opinion. If they were to trade back and take him in the late first while gaining an extra pick or two, it makes the selection a little easier to swallow.
Cook is the only back I see as being worth that first round pick. As Trevor Sikkema pointed out on last week’s Walking The Plank Podcast (listen below as we discuss all things running backs), Fournette is comparable to Derrick Henry who was a mid-second round pick last year yet Fournette is being touted as a generational player this year. It just doesn’t add up. As it stands now, a feature back like Cook – or even Leonard Fournette if he’s your cup of tea – falling to 19 seems like a pipe dream.
Trade Up To Get Your Guy
If the Buccaneers are truly sold on Cook, there’s always the option to trade up to ensure they get him. This is by far my least favorite option strictly because of the price they’ll pay to do so. This team still has needs that have to be addressed and sacrificing an extremely valuable second day pick – which is what it would likely cost – may hurt the team far more than Cook will help.
If they can swing a deal to move up and it cost them a fourth – just like when they traded back with the Bears last season – then I’m all in. Given where I believe Cook will go (top 14), it seems nearly impossible to move up from 19 and it only cost a day three pick.
And don’t waste your breath with the whole “But, Licht traded up for Aguayo!’ nonsense. He traded a pick they got from Chicago so it essentially cost nothing. And moving around in days two and three is not nearly as expensive as moving up on day one. Period.
Stand Pat, Hope For The Best
They can go into the season with Jacquizz Rodgers carrying the load in the first three games then hope that Doug Martin has a bounce back season. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that they do, indeed, like their players and want to see things through. Many Bucs fans have turned on Martin, but he was part of a record setting offense just two seasons ago. If he’s gotten his personal life straightened out and his demons have subsided, there is the possibility he can do it again.
This seems like the least likely scenario as it seems there is some buyer’s remorse for Martin’s contract and the Bucs have been given a second chance and can get out of it. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen and it’s a scenario fans may want to brace themselves for.
The Adrian Peterson Scenario
There are mixed views on this from fans and media alike. Some media members believe there is little to no chance this happens. They very well could be right. They speak to people inside the building, both on and off the record, and their feeling is that it won’t happen. That’s fine.
Others are speculating that there is more to these Peterson/Jameis Winston workouts than just coincidence. Peterson is not only a future Hall of Famer but he is a draw in every sense of the word. He will draw stadium attendance, television ratings, jersey sales, etc. Most importantly, he will help the team.
No, Peterson is not a long term answer. He is, however, the perfect bridge. See, part of the Peterson scenario is drafting a guy in round three/four to groom and develop to be the guy down the line. We are all aware of the interest in USF’s Marlon Mack (also talked about on the podcast). It is very real and very legitimate and Mack may just be their guy. However, he isn’t ready to step in and carry the load right out of the gate.
Who better for him to sit behind than the best running back of this generation? He can develop, get limited playing time as he becomes accustomed to the NFL game, and not be expected to come in and take over the lead back role immediately.
Day Two Pick
Basically the same as the Adrian Peterson scenario only without signing Adrian Peterson. They look to a guy like Mack, D’Onta Foreman, Alvin Kamara, Samaje Perine, or Kareem Hunt to come in and be the back of the future. There will be a heavier workload on the shoulders of Jacquizz Rodgers if that is the choice, but it’s a very real possibility that the Bucs are unable to draft a running back in round one and they’re forced to address it in the second or third.
Next: The Budda Baker/Obi Melifonwu Theory
So which of these options is your favorite? Which one would you hate? Which do you think is the most likely? Sound off in the comments, tweet us, or email us at email@example.com if there is something you want to hear us discuss on the podcast.