As the Buccaneers look at all the areas that need improvement, one of the more hotly debated topics is that of running back. In fact, David Harrison and I debated this exact thing and can be found here.
Although the Bucs would be fine entering the season with the group they have now, when it comes to the NFL Draft the team will look at any area to improve and if a running back is their highest rated player they won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
One such player could be Washington’s Myles Gaskin. He’s a small, compact runner that gets big results.
Myles Gaskin’s Career
Gaskin was a four year starter for the Washington Huskies and was the first player in PAC-12 history to rush for over 1,000 yards all four seasons. He finished his tenure with 5,323 yards, and 57 touchdowns on 945 carries. In the receiving game, Gaskin had 65 receptions for 465 yards and five touchdowns. All in all, he averaged 5.7 yards per touch.
Gaskin finished thirteenth all time on the NCAA’s rushing yards list, twentieth all time in yards from scrimmage, and sixteenth all time in touchdowns. To say that he had a stellar college career would be an understatement.
For starters, he’s already proven that he can be the work horse back in an offense whether it’s carrying the ball or as a receiver out of the backfield. He has tremendous vision and anticipation, which allowed someone of his size to be so effective against much larger and faster defenders. Makes quick, decisive cuts to elude defenders and gain extra yards.
His small, strong frame makes him difficult to take down as he uses his low center of gravity to his advantage every time he touches the ball - similar to that of Maurice Jones-Drew. His quick bursts of speed and elusiveness helps him bounce runs to the outside and beat defenders to the edge.
Certainly, the heavy workload he had at Washington will raise some concern as running backs have a short enough lifespan as it is. Having over 1,000 touches in college could potentially shorten his NFL tenure even more. He won’t confuse anyone for a “power back” and his belief that he can always make the big play creates hesitation and issues when running inside where holes open up.
Less than stellar hands. Average at best, but has a propensity to drop passes he shouldn’t. His small build is certainly a concern when combined with his workload at Washington.
Why The Buccaneers Need Him
Gaskin can help improve the running back group as a whole, but his skillset doesn’t bring much that isn’t already there. Gaskin would come in and be similar to Barber. Sure, they could draft him to give Barber a rest here and there, but he won’t be a change of pace or goal line type of player which is what the Buccaneers would really need.
Will It Happen?
Myles Gaskin was my favorite running back at the combine as I wrote about here, Despite how much I like Gaskin both as a person and a player, he just isn’t the right fit in my opinion. Drafting someone who doesn’t offer improvement over Peyton Barber in any facets seems like a wasted pick and woud result in the running backs’ skillsets being redundant. There’s no additional threat to an opposing defense and the Bucs would be better off continuing to develop Ronald Jones to be the second half of a one-two punch.