Will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers split Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Ronald Jones carries 50-50?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the busiest and most productive teams during the 2020 NFL offseason.
They signed Tom Brady from the New England Patriots, just in case you hadn’t heard about that already.
They also traded for Brady’s old pal Rob Gronkowski, calling him out of retirement to come and play tight end along with OJ Howard and Cameron Brate.
The Bucs re-signed Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul. They franchise tagged Shaquil Barrett.
They drafted Tristan Wirfs in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft to shore up their offensive line. Antoine Winfield Jr. was added in the second round of the draft to be a ballhawk in the secondary behind their stellar front seven.
One of the only areas left for the Bucs to upgrade heading into the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft was their running game, and there were still plenty of backs for them to choose from at that point.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn added to the mix
With the 76th overall pick in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Bucs added Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, a Nashville native who played two seasons of college ball at Illinois and another two seasons at Vanderbilt after transferring.
His most success came as a member of the Commodores where he ran for 2,272 yards and 21 touchdowns.
He also proved his worth in the passing game, catching 41 passes with three receiving touchdowns over the last two seasons.
Although Vaughn is more of a north-south runner than a shifty back, he’s explosive in his cuts, patient, and provides value on all three downs.
How will the Bucs split his carries with incumbent RB1 Ronald Jones?
Buccaneers 2019 carries
In the 2019 season, former second-round pick Ronald Jones had a breakout season of sorts. He led the team with 724 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 174 attempts.
Just behind him in the timeshare was Peyton Barber, who carried the ball 154 times for 470 yards and another six scores, averaging 3.1 yards per carry.
The Bucs’ running game was certainly not their calling card, and it wasn’t expected to be with Jameis Winston throwing 626 passes. It will once again be secondary to Brady and the passing game in 2020 but it might be more prominent if Vaughn can provide consistency in tandem with Jones.
Brady can certainly throw over 600 passes if need be, but as he gets older, that may not be the wisest course of action and the Bucs would probably love to be able to use the running game more frequently than they did in 2019.
With Barber and Jones so close in carries last year despite the lack of effectiveness on a per carry basis from Barber, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Bucs give an even split of carries to their third-round rookie and Ronald Jones, who also caught 31 passes a season ago.
No NFL team is under the illusion that it needs a workhorse back to carry the full load, but the Bucs need to make sure they have a duo they can trust to keep the offense moving when the passing game needs a respite.
Vaughn has the bully type of mentality as a runner to grind out tough yardage and the explosiveness to create longer runs between the tackles. He will have to prove himself worthy, but don’t be surprised to see at least a 50-50 split for these two backs in Tampa Bay in 2020.