Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Late Round Running Back Options

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LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 29: Benny Snell Jr #26 of the Kentucky Wildcats runs for a touchdownl against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Commonwealth Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Last season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers run game fell flat. Entering the draft, the Buccaneers have an opportunity to add to the back field stable by drafting a running back in the middle of the draft. Here are three running backs who are worthy of consideration by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

2018 Recap

In 2018, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to muster an abysmal 1,523 rushing yards all season. That was good enough to rank 29th in the league. Averaging 3.9 yards per attempt put the Buccaneers offense in a bind at times. Often leading to third and long situations. Coupled with Ronald Jones’s steep learning curve and possible misguided usage, the team struggled all season. Could another running back be drafted by the Buccaneers to rectify the situation?

Small School Big Upside

Standing at 5-feet 8-inches and 208 pounds, Darrell Henderson of the Memphis Tigers looks to hear his name called during the draft. At the NFL Combine Henderson put on a strong show. He clocked in at 4.49 at the NFL Combine and added to his small stature with a 33.5-inch vertical, 121-inch broad jump in addition to 22 reps on the bench. A good showing to say the least.

It is his numbers that jump out though. He ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his last two seasons, falling short of the 2,000 yard mark by 91 yards in 2018. Memphis used Henderson as a work horse in his final season, carrying the ball 214 times. His yardage was not a mere production number based off attempts. He averaged 8.9 yards a carry on his way to 22 touchdowns.

His speed and production will earn. him some looks by a few teams. Henderson has some home run capability, balance, and elusiveness. At the next level, he will need to work on pass protection. His draft stock will depend on if teams view him as a primary running back able to carry the work load or a complimentary back. He could go in the second round but if the Buccaneers find themselves with Henderson on the board in the third, I could see them call his name.

“O-H”—-“I-O” and a Running Back

I like players with a chip on their shoulder. Something to prove. Once buried behind a star but had star power themselves. Mike Weber of the Ohio State Buckeyes just might be that guy. Posting similar numbers to Henderson, Weber ran the 40 in 4.47 seconds, pumped out 22 reps on the bench and leaped 33.5 inches on the vertical jump. Just a little bigger at 5-feet 10-inches and weighing in at 211 pounds, Weber will also hear his name during the draft.

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During his time in Ohio, Weber found himself constantly battling for recognition with other running backs. In 2016, he was the starter but got supplemented by Curtis Samuel (Carolina Panthers) who stole almost 100 carries from him. That year, Weber ran for 1,096 yards at an average of six yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns. Looking to become the premier back once Curtis left, Weber found himself over shadowed after an injury. It was at this time J. K. Dobbins would take the lead. During 2017, Weber’s work load decreased. As a result, Weber ran for 101 attempts averaging 6.2 yards a carry. With Ohio State running the ball more in 2018, Weber went on to carry the ball 172 times for 954 and an average of 5.5 yards a carry. Those numbers are good considering Dobbins also ran the ball 230 times.

Weber is an option to consider for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is a smart runner with good balance. Though he may not be a true number one running back he does have some potential to become one. He would work his way into the line up and rotate with the other backs Tampa has. Weber may be a good pick up in the fourth round if not late third.

Kentucky Thoroughbred

The compact Benny Snell stands 5-feet 10-inches and weighs in at 224 pounds. Hoping to improve his draft stock at the NFL Combine, Snell performed as expected. This performance confirmed that he has speed concerns at the next level. Clocking in at 4.66 seconds, Snell did not impress. His other workouts did not do much to overcome that speed either. Pumping out 16 reps on bench, a 29.5-inch vertical and 119-inch broad jump did not jump of the page. So why is on my list?

The quick answer is production. In all three years of college, Snell pumped out over 100 yards a season, averaged no less than five yards a carry and scored in the double digits each year. The better answer is he posses power as a down hill runner and his ability to pass protect is amazing. If placed in the Tampa Bay backfield, he will bruise defenses and wear them down. He will also be key in short yardage situations with the ability to also be the check down and can keep a quarterback’s jersey clean. He is a physical runner who is tough to bring down. His running style reminds me of Frank Gore and could prove to be just as prolific. Gore ran a 4.58 at the combine. Not very fast but he has been a machine since being drafted. Snell may go as high as the third round but we will have to see how teams feel about that speed issue. We will find out on draft day.

 

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