Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2021 NFL three-round mock draft
By Rob Leeds
Buccaneers Round 3: Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis
If the last few draft classes have taught us anything, it is that Memphis is becoming one of the preeminent schools at training running backs to excel in the modern NFL. Tony Pollard, Antonio Gibson, and Darrell Henderson have looked great as explosive runners and stellar pass-catchers, and Tampa Bay needs much more of that.
Ronald Jones has experienced a career season so far this year, and the Buccaneers don’t need a running back to replace him, but Kenneth Gainwell would compliment RoJo perfectly.
The Buccaneers tried to address pass-catching back in the 2020 NFL draft with Ke’Shawn Vaughn and in free agency with LeSean McCoy, but both have fallen short on passing downs. Tampa Bay needs a consistent option to give Tom Brady the best looks out of the backfield, and that is precisely what Gainwell would do.
In just one season as a starter at Memphis, Gainwell rushed for 1,459 yards on 231 tries (6.3 yards per carry) and also had 51 receptions for 610 yards. Gainwell has proven that he is a multi-purpose back, not that he has the tools to become one, and this should make him a hot commodity during the draft.
As is the trend with Memphis running backs, the odds are decent that he will jump up draft boards the day of, but this is a player that the Buccaneers should watch closely.