Many mock drafts are starting to pop up that have the Buccaneers taking a running back in the early rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s why they’re wrong.
While there are many unspoken rules in the modern NFL, there is one rule that is starting to become more common-knowledge. It is a rule that proves itself every single year, a lesson that applies to every team in the NFL, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: don’t invest in running backs.
As the NFL has shifted to become more pass-oriented, traditional running backs have become more obsolete and teams are realizing just how replaceable they are.
Teams that invest high draft picks in running backs or lock these players into long contracts are often diverting resources away from far bigger areas of need.
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Think this is wrong? Where were Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the 2020 playoffs? Absent. Devonta Freeman? Le’Veon Bell? Not even close. How about David Johnson; the highest-payed running back in the NFL in 2019 according to overthecap.com? He finished the 2019 season on the bench for Kenyan Drake.
Still looking at overthecap.com, the nine running backs set to make the most money in the NFL for the 2020 season did not play in the playoffs (Jerick McKinnon hasn’t played a down for the 49ers for two years).
At least Saquon Barkley made it….-wait. No he didn’t. He spent a decent chunk of the season injured and the even when he was healthy the Giants were never close to making a playoff push. As of now you should hopefully start to see the picture.
The overwhelming, obvious trend here is that teams should never invest any substantial resources in a running back.
The Buccaneers made the mistake of drafting a running back in the second round in 2018 and they paid for it. Ronald Jones was a complete non-factor in 2018. Fortunately for the Bucs, Rojo has bounced back but the front office has to learn from this mistake.
Even if players like Cam Akers, Jonathan Taylor, or J.K. Dobbins are better than Ronald Jones, the improvement is only marginal and using a pick on any of them would be a complete misallocation of resources.
The litmus test for a running back in the NFL is the capability to put up a 1,000 yard rushing season. Ronald Jones played at that level in 2019 assuming he didn’t miss out on nearly half of the total snaps to Peyton Barber.
The Buccaneers have several glaring holes on their team that need to be addressed, and none of them are a running back. At best, what the Bucs need is a backup running back, which they could get in rounds five through seven, or a cheap free agent who they could bring in easily.
There is not one player listed in this post that would make the Buccaneers a playoff team. Derrick Henry could not carry this team to the playoffs. Of the final four teams in the playoffs, the two running backs who made it to the Super Bowl were un-drafted free agents, Derrick Henry was a second round pick, and Aaron Jones was a fifth round pick.
Just looking at these trends, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have absolutely no business using a high round pick to take a running back. A pick used on this position in rounds one through three would be a complete waste when the Bucs could solve other problems with these resources.