The Buccaneers need to keep a close eye on UF running back Dameon Pierce.
This offseason is about to be rough for the Buccaneers. Free agent departures could come from everywhere, and running back could be one of the positions hit the hardest by cap considerations.
Ronald Jones has to be out, Giovanni Bernard is a question mark, and Leonard Fournette’s market could make him a non-option with pressing needs everywhere else.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn is going to need some help from the 2022 NFL Draft and from free agency if the run game is to survive, and one of the best options appears to be UF running back Dameon Pierce.
There are usually one or two running backs in every class that shoot up draft boards in the weeks leading up to the draft. Javonte Williams was that player in the Class of 2021, Antonio Gibson was the pick the Bucs just missed out on in 2020, and Pierce looks like this player in 2022.
Pierce started this draft-coverage season as a guy that teams would take late on Day Three. Our best bet is that a team will take him on Day Two now.
There is a mountain of positives to take away from Pierce’s game, and while the Bucs shouldn’t reach too far for another running back after the Ke’Shawn Vaughn fiasco, finding Pierce in the right round would make him a steal.
Pierce never had the volume of carries at Florida that would make him a popular name on most talk shows, but what he did with those carries was extremely impressive.
Getting outside of the stats, Pierce brings the lateral abilities that Vaughn lacks, while also bringing the same big-play ability that made Vaughn’s highlight tapes so impressive.
This works perfectly in a Buccaneer run game that forces backs to make those moves in space and make the most of touches on the ground and through the air.
Moving on to the passing side of things, Pierce wasn’t a high-volume receiving back at Florida, so expecting some huge jump as a pass-catcher in the NFL is a little too forward-thinking.
However, Pierce may be one of the best blocking backs in the class, and that is something that should interest the Buccaneers greatly. If Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette taught us anything over the past two seasons, it is much easier to teach a guy to catch than it is to teach a guy to block.
With solid rushing ability and the talent to contribute in the passing game, Pierce checks off every box and then some for the Buccaneers. This isn’t to say that Tampa needs to reach on anyone, but heads are already starting to turn on Dameon Pierce, and the Buccaneers should take advantage if they see him in a great draft spot.
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