Buccaneers running back room: Who should team go forward with?

Leonard Fournette, Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Leonard Fournette, Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

There were four running backs on the Buccaneers last year. Much improved, but a mixed bag overall.

LeSean McCoy was on the team in a technical sense last year. The few snaps he played, he just looked old and slow. He’s closer to holding a drink with a little umbrella than he is an All-Pro on the Eagles.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn was a pick that felt like a massive reach in last year’s draft. It was less like the Bucs were picking a player they believed in than they were a position they thought needed more options. It’s obviously not impossible he ends up being a viable option considering the transformation Jones made from year one to year three on the very same team. The Bucs can’t go forward assuming he’ll transform into the player they need.

Leonard Fournette was… okay? He was essentially a non-factor in the regular season. Other than one big run against the Panthers in week two, it felt like maybe the Bucs had taken a swing and a miss on Fournette. If it wasn’t for a solid postseason no one would be talking about him returning to the team, or really any team as a starter. A lot of his postseason success (not all) was due to improved blocking by the line and an untimely injury to Jones. While he was good in pass protection, which is important, he just doesn’t have great hands. Drops and bobbles plagued him all year.

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Ronald Jones was the one bright spot. He ran like a madman, racking up just shy of 1000 yards at 5.1 yards per carry. There was talk that in the offseason he was running up sand dunes, and it showed. He was explosive, ran hard through contact, and had good balance and elusiveness. His problem was the same as Fournettes but compounded. Rocks for hands, and looked lost and confused in pass protection. That’s not gonna work.

They have a great first down back in Jones, but they need to round out the room. They specifically need a true third-down option to split with Jones that isn’t Vaughn and a prayer.