Not many people with knowledge of the NFL found it surprising the that Tampa Bay Buccanneers used their second pick in the league draft to select a running back. This was especially so since the team had just released its starting running back for most of the last half a dozen seasons, Doug Martin.
However, the team is not in the middle of a total makeover in the backfield as last year’s end of the year starter, Peyton Barber, returns to provide more production for the team. Other returning running backs is the all-around skilled Jacquizz Rodgers and the accomplished receiver out of the backfield Charles Sims. As training camp approaches, the team also has once undrafted free agent Dalton Crossan, and Shaun Wilson, a draft pick in this year’s draft are also on the roster.
The mix of running backs the team possesses gives the Bucs a variety of styles to showcase in their offensive backfield. The drafting of USC running back Ronald Jones with the 38th pick in the draft was not to replace Barber but to complement him. The team felt like the two ballcarriers could be formidable working as a tandem. Jones will be depended upon to provide a big play element to the rushing attack that was absent a year ago and Barber is looked to for the ground and pound style already seen from him.
Tim Spender, the running backs coach for the Bucs, when asked of his initial impressions of his rookie addition, immediately mentioned the speed and quickness possessed by Jones. Spencer explained that Jones has decent size and will in all likelihood fill out more, but said that his agility and long-run capability is what he and the others on the coaching staff find truly attractive. Spencer also says that Jones has already shown he is a fast learner.
It is likely that the team will expect Jones to one day become a feature back as evidenced by the high draft pick used to secure his services, but in the meantime, they are quite excited about the tandem that he and Barber are expected to become.