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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Could Eye Running Back Depth in Draft | Brianna's Blitz 

General Manager Jason Licht addressed a variety of questions during his pre-draft press conference and discussed adding depth at running back to fortify the room for 2024

RB Depth_

The 2024 NFL Draft is just around the corner and each club is finalizing their draft board, which means endless speculation by analysts. The perpetual cycle is ongoing until names are called from the podium during the three-day extravaganza. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed several key impending free agents in March, putting the team in prime positioning for the draft.

The Buccaneers hit on a third-round selection in 2022 with Arizona State running back Rachaad White. With the 91st overall pick, Tampa Bay solidified the room. He quickly showcased his ability as a dual-threat back and in Year Two, earned a role as the club's primary workhorse. White finished the 2023 season with 990 yards rushing and fell 10 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard campaign. He did top 1,500 yards from scrimmage and was the league's fourth-most productive back. White displayed his prowess in the open field off screens, sweeps and empty packages to supplement the run game. White developed a feel for locating tight creases and improved at transitioning from reactive-to-finish mode.

The Bucs re-signed Chase Edmonds, White's running mate, to a second-straight one-year deal. Edmonds dealt with a knee injury that sidelined him for four weeks during the 2023 campaign and overall, he concluded the year with 49 totes for 176 yards, adding 14 catches for 81 yards. He filled a rotational role, as did Sean Tucker, who signed with Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent last April. Tucker rushed for 23 yards on 15 carries and the Bucs could seek another complement for White in the 2024 draft. General Manager Jason Licht did not rule out the Bucs going after another "Rachaad" in this year's class to bolster the room, elevating depth.

"I think if we feel that we need to upgrade the room or the running game, not necessarily the player but just the running game, we can't be afraid to take another player," described Licht. "I think if we had two Rachaads, we'd find a way to use two Rachaads. But I understand what you mean – you kind of want one to balance the other. You want good football players, and you can't be afraid to tell your player, 'Hey, you're great, but if [we] have another you, we can spell you.' We've got to also have insurance. There are always injuries that come into account. I think one thing we've learned, or I've learned, in the 2020-21 seasons is that we had a lot of great depth. We had a lot of players that could step in when we had injuries. You can't have enough good depth." 

Having two dynamic backs on the field not only opens up the playbook but keeps defenses guessing out of multiple personnel groupings. Traditionally, Bucs' running backs coach Skip Peete has coached a two-headed tandem in the backfield, whether Tyrone Wheatley and LaMont Jordan in Oakland, Marion Barber and Felix Jones in Dallas (first stint), or Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard during his second time around with the Cowboys. Predominately with a one-two punch in the modern era of the NFL, there is a power, between-the-tackles bruiser for goal-line, short-yardage situations and third-down pass-blocking duties. Then, there is a shifty back to exploit the perimeter by making defenders miss while getting north-south. Each raises the bar for the other and creates opportunities as defenses adjust to one style. In 2023, the Bucs installed a system similar to what White ran at Arizona State with mid-zone, outside-zone and power principles sprinkled in. He thrived in that system and created mismatches on the field when lining up in the slot. For the Buccaneers in 2024, adding another change-of-pace back to the mix could help bolster the offense and keep legs fresh during the duration of the 18-week (including bye week) stretch.

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