Running Back Battle: Peyton Barber vs Ronald Jones
Here is the most intriguing training camp battle to watch. One if the most important positions in today’s game are the running back and outside of two productive seasons from Doug Martin, the Buccaneers have been towards the bottom of the league in rushing yards.
This year, however, should be different. Peyton Barber, an undrafted free agent out of Auburn, has overthrown Martin and had a fairly productive season. Similarly to that of Godwin, Barber posted most of his stats in the final five games of the year, when he actually got a chance to play.
In the final five weeks, Barber had 78 carries, 335 yards and one touchdown along with 12 catches, 86 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. Not bad numbers for an undrafted free agent. However, he won’t be giving any defensive coordinators nightmares like Alvin Kamara or LeVeon Bell do.
Ronald Jones was an early pick for the Bucs this offseason to pair with Barber, but could he start over him?
Ronald Jones II, while not taken in the first round, was the sixth pick in the second round. The PAC-12 is not the NFL but “Rojo” averaged 1307 total yards and 14 touchdowns in his three seasons at USC.
In his junior year alone he produced astounding numbers with 1737 total yards and 20 touchdowns. Jones has speed and agility that has drawn comparisons to Jamaal Charles. He also isn’t a bad receiver either.
While the numbers weren’t there in college, Jones has said he can catch the ball. Rookie running backs have burst onto the scene producing huge numbers in their first season. Kamara, Kareem Hunt, Jordan Howard and David Johnson have blossomed into Pro Bowlers and have defied expectations. Jones feels like one of those talents.
Barber is by no means firmly entrenched as the stater. The Bucs brought back Jaquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims to contribute in the backfield as well but Jones and Barber should be on top of the depth chart. I feel that the Bucs should split carries early and allow Jones to develop but he could be better than expected sooner if he was as good as he was at USC.
Projected Winner: Ronald Jones
What other offensive battles are you excited to see? Do you agree with my projected “winners?” Sound off on Twitter and Facebook who you want to see be the starters on the offense. Also look for Training Camp Battles to Watch: Defense coming soon.