The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been fairly successful drafting under the Jason Licht era. One key position the Buccaneers need the most help with is still running back.
With the 2017 draft now in the rear view mirror it’s never too early to take a look at some prospects for next years draft. The Buccaneers current key offensive players looks stacked, except for running back. Doug Martin is expected to return after week three. Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers are not number one backs. Newly drafted rookie Jeremy McNichols is more of a Charles Sims type player. To become a dynasty caliber offense they need to fix that one missing piece. There are a lot of options coming up in next years draft and with it top heavy at quarterback, one of the top guys could fall to the Bucs when they land a later first round pick.
Bo Scarborough, Alabama
Bo Scarborough is a freak of nature. If you have not seen any of his tape please take a look. Scarborough really made a name for himself in the 2016/2017 NCAA College Playoffs where he rushed for 273 yards on 35 carries for four touchdowns. In the National Title game against Clemson he broke a bone in his leg causing him to miss the rest of the game. As many of us know Clemson went on to win the title but if Bo was still playing Alabama may have been able to run out the clock. Bo is 6’2″ 228 pounds of pure muscle. He’s is a bigger back but he does not lack speed. He needs to prove himself as a pass catcher this season but he can make the first round next season.
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Nick Chubb, Georgia
Chubb has been a top college back for a while now. Famously being part of a two headed monster with Todd Gurley at Georgia. As a freshman, with Gurley as the lead back, he rushed for 1547 yards himself. Chubb was actually eligible to enter the draft this season but decided to return for his senior season. In 2015 he could’ve declared for the draft also but he was coming off major knee surgery. The freak injury in a game caused him to miss surpassing Herschel Walker for most consecutive 100 yard games. He wanted to prove himself after that injury and I guess he wanted to prove himself again this year. As an elite running back in the SEC he should have the spotlight on him for all of the 2018 season, and will prove himself right, again.
Derrius Guice, LSU
Derrius Guice was Leonard Fournette’s back up the past two season at LSU. In the season where Fournette might have taken it easy with the draft in his future Guice needed to prove his worth. He performed like a future NFL feature back. In the eight games he had with more than ten carries he averaged 6.1 yards a carry and had 15 touchdowns. Not to shabby for a back that sat behind the fourth overall pick. Like Scarborough he needs to work on blocking and pass catching is he wants to be elite but he had the potential to be the top back of the board come draft night in April 2018.
Royce Freeman, Oregon
Royce Freeman had a down season this year but so did the entire Oregon organization. It didn’t stop him from still being a play maker for the team. He missed out on a 1,000 yard season by 55 yards but missed almost two full games with injury. In his three years in Eugene he has 4,146 yards and 44 touchdowns. That doesn’t include his receiving yards, which he has the capability to utilize. Freeman is part of the Oregon offense that is known for their speed. At 5’11” 230 pounds hes a bigger back but he is a rocket. With the ability to do it all he is one of the most well rounded backs in college this season. If Willy Taggert, former USF head coach, can turn around the team keep an eye on Freeman climb everyone’s draft board.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Saquon Barkley is widely regarded as the top back of the 2018 prospects. Barkley won an array of awards including the 2016 All Big Ten First team. After Penn State upset Ohio State Urban Meyer came out and said Barkley is a first round pick. With only 12 carries in the game Barkley had 99 yards and definitely made so impressions on the rest of the league. He had four games over 150 yards and two over 200. In his bowl game against USC he had 194 yards and two touchdowns. The Nittany Lions are still trying to become the top tier team they once were but Barkley has given them the top most elusive back in the NCAA. He’s very humble and you won’t hear him with any off the field issues making him the top prospect for 2018. He may not be there when the Buccaneers are picking but if he is he’ll be hard to pass up.
The Buccaneers may not have a running back issue after this season but based on past performance I believe it needs to be addressed. Doug Martin might bounce back but he’ll be on the wrong side of 30 and no one currently looks like a feature back in the NFL. We shall see this off-season what the offense can do, but keep an eye on the running back prospects in this years season. Think some one else should be on this list, comment on Twitter or Facebook to further the discussion.