Our next look at the players vying for NFL roster spots at the Scouting Combine is going to focus on the running back position.
Peyton Barber is a restricted free-agent and questions exist about whether or not he can provide what Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich will want in a starting running back. Ronald Jones is coming off a disappointing rookie season with most hoping he had more of a coaching problem than a player problem in 2018.
So, we could say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a need at running back. When and where they’ll take one is the big question.
No matter what the Bucs do with their running back group, these competitors will be looking to impress them and the other 31 NFL franchises at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
2019 COMBINE RUNNING BACKS
|INGOLD, ALEC (FB)
BEST IN CLASS: JOSH JACOBS, ALABAMA
There might not be an easier ‘Best in Class’ tag to make than Jacobs.
His versatility and play-making ability is clearly above the rest of the running back class at this point.
Right now, teams in the top end of the draft are trying to figure out if he’s a generational talent worthy of such a high pick for a position with such a short career span. Teams in the teens and towards the end of the first round are just hoping all of the defensive talent in this year’s class puts Jacobs on skates.
MOST TO PROVE: BRYCE LOVE, STANFORD
Love’s character, leadership and ability are not in question. What is in question is his health. Having multiple injuries in college will never help a prospect’s draft stock. The word on running backs is they don’t last long in the NFL already, and that’s if they don’t come in with previous damage.
Guys like Todd Gurley will make teams think it’s all going to be ok, and encourage them to take the risks. Although, after what happened this post-season, it’ll be a bit harder for teams to use him as a beacon of injury hope.
Then there are players like Leonard Fournette who was drafted in the Top-10 despite his injury history with LSU, and has had the same issues as a professional running back up to this point.
We’ve all seen injured players get drafted on day two of the NFL Draft. But guys like Jaylon Smith aren’t playing running back.
Medical evaluations at the combine will be the talk of Lucas Oil Stadium during the event, and just how well his knee is recovering from his ACL injury will determine where he lands on individual boards this Spring.
MOST LIKELY BUCS DRAFT PICK: JOSH JACOBS, ALABAMA
Now, truth be told, I believe the Buccaneers will go defense with their first pick of the draft this April. However, this isn’t necessarily a death sentence for Jacobs’ chances at being in Tampa this Summer.
This isn’t so much a draft prediction as much as it is a projection. Meaning that if Arians, Leftwich and Jason Licht are not ready to commit to Barber or Jones being their starting running back in 2019, they’re likely going to need to draft Jacobs or sign a free-agent.
Therefore, the most likely guy to get drafted by the Bucs, is this Alabama Crimson Tide product.
Anyone else a team drafts in this year’s class is a complimentary or back-up player entering camp. Yes, we’ll have the surprise pick who turns out to be a star and every other fan base will blame their general manager for not picking him.
But, entering the draft, Jacobs is the only day one starter and if Licht is targeting one running back it’s him.
Honorable Mention: Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma