View photos of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 53-man roster.
Ronald Jones finished the 2019 season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting running back, and he'll open 2020 in the same spot. However, the running back room around Jones has changed dramatically since the end of last year.
Gone from the Bucs' 2019 backfield are Peyton Barber, Dare Ogunbowale and T.J. Logan, the lattermost lost to injured reserve. In are LeSean McCoy, Leonard Fournette and third-round draft pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn. Barber, who primarily shared the carries with Jones last year, was a former undrafted free agent who had held the starting job in 2018. Ogunbowale, also a former undrafted free agent, was the main third-down back in 2019. Logan was almost exclusively a kick returner.
McCoy and Fournette bring more robust NFL resumes to the shared backfield with Jones. McCoy is a six-time Pro Bowler who has led the league in yards from scrimmage since his 2009 rookie campaign. Fournette was the fourth-overall pick in the 2017 draft and last year he ranked sixth in the NFL with 1,674 yards from scrimmage. Vaughn also made the team but it might be a bit longer until he carves out a role on offense thanks to the compressed offseason and cancellation of preseason games.
The biggest name on Tampa Bay's offensive depth chart is, of course, Tom Brady, who starts a new chapter in his career after 20 years and six Super Bowl titles in New England. Joining him in the starting lineup is another former Patriot star, Rob Gronkowski; he and O.J. Howard occupy the two tight end spots the Bucs list as starters. First-round draft pick Tristan Wirfs will step right in at right tackle; he is the only rookie currently projected to start on offense or defense.
Click here to review the Bucs' first depth chart of 2020. Below are the listed offensive starters:
And here's a breakdown by position:
Quarterback – The Buccaneers kept three passers, as Bruce Arians had suggested was the plan earlier in the week. The added depth may be more critical in a season in which the possibility of players being unavailable due to COVID-19 still remains. Blaine Gabbert, who started five games for Arizona under Bruce Arians is the clear number-two behind Brady but Griffin also has a good grasp on the playbook.
Running Back – As noted above, the Bucs are starting the season with four running backs, including their third-round draft pick, Vaughn. McCoy is listed in the second spot behind Jones, but it's possible that he gets most of his work as a third-down back, with Fournette being the main runner who spells Jones on first and second down.
Wide Receiver – Mike Evans and Chris Godwin comprise perhaps the NFL's best starting tandem of wide receivers and obviously continue to occupy the top two spots. Second-year man Scotty Miller and third-year player Justin Watson are next two on the depth chart, indicating that one of them is going to be the primary third receiver. Miller probably has the upper hand in that competition thanks to his speed, big-play ability and apparent chemistry with Brady in training camp. The Bucs went deep at receiver, initially keeping seven on Saturday before placing undrafted rookie John Hurst on injured reserve on Sunday. Jaydon Mickens and 2020 fifth-round draft pick Tyler Johnson are in the third spots at the two listed WR positions but may not initially have a large role in the offense. Mickens is expected to start the season with the kickoff and punt return jobs while Johnson may need more time to get acclimated to the offense after missing much of training camp with a leg injury.
Tight End – The Buccaneers had to waive a pair of intriguing prospects in Tanner Hudson and Codey McElroy to get down to four spots at this position but still ended up with one of the deepest and most talented tight end groups in the NFL. The Bucs' official depth chart lists two tight end positions and currently has Gronkowski and Howard in those spots. However, the actual number of starts that those two plus Cameron Brate and Antony Auclair make is likely to be the result of specific packages the team has for various two-TE sets. Auclair, for instance, has made 18 starts in three seasons despite only catching 10 passes in that span.
Offensive Line – There are no surprises in the starting five, though Wirfs had to prove he was the best option for opening day during an accelerated training camp. The other four starters return from last year and now have a year in Arians' offense under their belts. The primary reserves at offensive tackle are Joe Haeg and Josh Wells, both of whom have a good amount of NFL starting experience. The Bucs initially kept rookie John Molchon and second-year man Aaron Stinnie as their two interior-line reserves, neither of whom have started an NFL game. However, that group now has experienced depth as well after the re-signing of veteran A.Q. Shipley, who had been released on Saturday. Shipley has started 70 NFL games, including 32 at center under Bruce Arians in 2016 and 2017.