Buccaneers: Javonte Williams is not the answer at running back
By Rob Leeds
The Buccaneers and Javonte Williams are not a fit.
UNC running back Javonte Williams has become a favorite for the Buccaneers to target in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but this decision would not actually help Tampa Bay. Williams is an excellent back with plenty of talent, but the fit isn’t there.
Williams projects to be a lead back in almost any NFL offense. The first-round hopeful can run between the tackles as anyone, and his ability to catch consistently is exactly what most teams want in a featured back.
Unfortunately for the Williams to Tampa crowd, the path to this contingency has almost completely collapsed.
Javonte Williams to the Buccaneers is a tough sell
Looking at the Buccaneer running back room, the group is currently comprised of Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, and Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Jones and Fournette will be the early-down guys in 2021, but there isn’t a great option to step in on that third role for next year. Vaughn still has potential for growth, but he isn’t on track to be a featured pass-catcher.
If the Buccaneers want to create the best running back room possible, they need to find a tried and tested third-down back in the draft.
Can Williams catch? Absolutely. But his talents are wasted as a third-down back exclusively. The Bucs have already tied their ship to Fournette and Jones, so Williams stands to receive very few touches on the ground. Just look at Vaughn’s production in 2021.
Instead, Tampa Bay needs someone for the future who can be their featured pass-catcher out of the backfield to complement Jones, Fournette, both, or neither.
Williams is a complete player, but the Buccaneers would be wise to target a player that leans more towards catching passes rather than any other skill.
What it boils down to is replicability and the cost of draft picks. Williams in the first round on this team is a waste of capital. Spending a first-round pick on the third back in the depth chart is a waste of valuable resources. A third or fourth-round pick on this team for a pass-catcher goes much further.
Down the road, even next year, the Buccaneers could lose RoJo and Fournette and require a Williams-type player, but more will be available in the 2022 draft.
If the Bucs are committed to winning now and drafting to win during this window, the better options in the draft are not named Javonte Williams.
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