The Bucs And Slow Running Backs

April 24th, 2022

Texas A&M RB Isaiah Spiller.

So the Bucs have been linked to two SEC running backs in this week’s NFL Draft — this week!

The Bucs apparently worked out Texas A&M back Isaiah Spiller and Alabama running back Brian Robinson. Both seem able to block and catch. They’re heavy dudes weighing 217 and 224 pounds, respectively, and both run the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds.

Joe will get to the speed, or lack thereof, in a moment.

So in recent days, long-time Packers beat guy Bob McGinn, who flipped to The Athletic as a general NFL columnist and now types for “Go Long,” has been releasing his famous breakdown of all the top draft prospects in his “Go Long” column.

McGinn’s annual effort incenses many because all his sources are unnamed and in each writeup of each player, he finds an NFL scout or suit or a coach to talk the guy up like he is a Hall of Famer, and someone to rip the guy to shreds as if he couldn’t play in the USFL.

It’s enlightening and funny, and here is what McGinn typed about the two running backs linked to the Bucs, McGinn’s third- and fourth-best running backs.

3. ISAIAH SPILLER, Texas A&M (6-0 ½, 217, 4.62, 2-3): Third-year junior with 29 starts in 35 games. “There’s a little bit of LeSean McCoy to his style,” one scout said. “Really good vision. Really elusive. Got really good feet. Slithery, deceptively strong. Not a great long speed guy but neither was McCoy, and McCoy scored a shitload of touchdowns.” Finished with 541 carries for 2,993 yards (5.5) and 25 TDs along with 74 receptions. Alternated with speedy freshman Devon Achane in 2021. “He’s just a guy,” a second scout said. “Little bit of quickness, little bit of vision. Decent hands. Narrow-based runner gets tackled easily. Not a lot of juice or elusiveness.” Had six career fumbles. “He has a chance to ascend into a starter in time,” said a third scout. “He’s good at a lot of things but he’s not elite in any category.” From Spring, Texas.

4. BRIAN ROBINSON, Alabama (6-1 ½, 224, 4.60, 3): Increased his rushing total every year: 165 to 272 to 441 to 483 to 1,343. “Pad-level, extra-yardage guy,” one scout said. “Makes his own hole with no blockers against a linebacker. Can move the chains because of his strength but also has cutback ability. Downhill power with wide speed. Surprisingly fast for that size. Can get the edge quickly. Good patience to find the hole and accelerate on zone plays.” Had to wait his turn behind Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris. “They crushed him for five years and he came back for a sixth year,” a second scout said. “Had a pretty decent season but you can’t trust him. Not overly sharp (Wonderlic of 14). Just a runner only.” Finished with 545 carries for 2,704 (5.0) and 29 TDs to go with 52 receptions. “He is what he is,” a third scout said. “He’s a product of that offense. He runs hard. He’s a big guy. He’s got a little bit of speed. He’s not a sure-fire starter. He’s a quality backup.” Born and raised near campus in Tuscaloosa. “Just a run-of-the-mill, straight-line, gets-what’s-blocked kind of runner,” said a fourth scout. “You like the way he runs but he’s just not a supremely talented guy. Fourth round.”

Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf is one of McGinn’s sources. Wolf was the first Bucs’ general manager (he built the team that went to the playoffs in the late 1970s and early 80s), then he ran the Raiders before building the Packers’ squad in the 90s that went to two Super Bowls.

Wolf said he never had an issue with a running back who ran 4.6. He was always much more interested in production than what the guy did on a track in Indianapolis.

“Speed is always a factor but backs are a unique position so it really didn’t bother me,” said Wolf. “To me, if you have the capability, if you were good in college, you will get yardage up here in the big leagues. I’m not talking about 4.8, 4.7, or if you played against (lower competition).”

Wolf continued: “We had special criteria. They had to be able to pass protect, catch the ball and run, and, in some instances, run block. What did I look for? Results.”

Spiller and Robinson pass Wolf’s smell test. While both ran 4.6, both got results in the SEC.

Here are some running backs McGinn documented running in the neighborhood of 4.6 coming out of college: Le’Veon Bell (4.57), Carlos Hyde (4.61), James White (4.58), Mike Davis (4.56), Jordan Howard (4.59), Alvin Kamara (4.59), Eddie Lazy (4.59), Kareem Hunt (4.59), James Conner (4.64), Aaron Jones (4.58) Jamaal Williams (4.56), Josh Jacobs (4.63), David Montgomery (4.59), Darrell Henderson (4.58), Devin Singletary (4.65), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (4.59), Zack Moss (4.62), James Robinson (4.64), Javonte Williams (4.56) and Rhamondre Stevenson (4.64).

None of those guys are Dare Ogunbowale.

43 Responses to “The Bucs And Slow Running Backs”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Rojo ran 4.65……but had enough juice to run 98 yards for a Buc record……

    And, it never looked like he lacked speed.

    I think speed is several priorities down the list when it comes to RB…..

    Give me a back that can get you 2 yards every time on 3rd or 4th & 2 and I’ll take him.

  2. Buc92’ Says:

    Give me spiller , who btw had a field day on Alabama


  3. Tim Says:

    I’d take James Cook over both of these guys. Best pass catching RB in the draft.

  4. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Of those 2 backs, Robinson is faster, and 10 lbs bigger!
    Wow, I am surprised that Clyde Edwards-Helaire only ran a (4.59) 40!
    Just as I am surprised that Alvin Kamara only ran the same thing!
    I always figured they were at least 4.4 guys, so it shows you what I know!

  5. HC Grover Says:

    Get big beef fullback. Alstott and Cszonk style. Czonk and Gronk em.

  6. Thadeus Says:

    Trade Godwin and Lenny for McCaffery

  7. StickinUp4Centers Says:

    HC Grover, Zander Horvath has received Alstott comparisons. He projects to be an UDFA and is a bit untested, however, he supposedly is a great pass blocker and his combine testing was excellent.

    Pierre Strong JR is a small school guy who ran like a 4.36 and is supposedly an above-average pass blocker. He might need to work on his hands, which is a disappointment for the Bucs, but that kind of change of pace back out of the backfield could be an interesting addition to the offense.

  8. Steven007 Says:

    I’m with Tim. James Cook has just as much juice as these guys running the ball. But he’s a much much better receiver. Can legitimately line up as a receiver and run routes.

  9. HC Grover Says:

    Stickup, UDFA the price is right. Some 2 back sets may be in the new playbook. Both Stott and Cszonk could catch a pass now and then. 3 wide with Evans, Gage and AB with 2 RB’ or Evans and AB wide with 2 RBS and Gronks a change of pace too. I hope we have some new play sets to throw at them.

  10. HC Grover Says:

    Keep Lenny but trade Godwin. 15 games w/o Godwin this year is too high a price to pay 20 million. But for Bowles Blunder play we could have won the SB w/o him last year.

  11. Allbuccedup Says:

    Do not need a running back this year. In addition we pass so much we really don’t need a back except for third and one!

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Off subject……..Joe, could you do an article on Deadrin Senat, DT…..signed by the Bucs.
    I realize he’s probably camp meat but he’s still on the roster.

  13. HC Grover Says:

    Senat will surprise us un the middle. He is thick as a brick and smart. He can give VV his breaks too. Looked at some his film and he disrupts the schemes of the opponent offense.

  14. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    If we can nab Dameon Pierce in the 4th round I would be thrilled! Dude is a well-rounded baller who was completely underused for the Gators. I think he would quickly eclipse Vaughn as the #2 behind Lenny. LFG!!

  15. Brevard Buc Says:

    Never trade Lenny and Godwin for the always hurt Mcaffrey.

  16. Elita Vita Says:

    1) Spiller
    2) Cook
    3) Robinson

  17. HC Grover Says:

    If we are in the thick of it in December we do not need Godwin to win it all this year is what I think.

  18. Jor Jor Binks Says:

    Did you know that Lenny has never lost a fumble to another team in his ENTIRE career?! Talk about ball security 👏

    I wouldn’t mind Spiller (or even Pierce) as an all-around back who can do it all (maybe not all great), especially if Lenny were to get injured we don’t really have that kind of back.

    But I do prefer more of different kind of RB to compliment Lenny. A dangerous take it the house kind of guy like a James Cook, Strong Jr. or Rachaad White, etc who can still factor into the passing game as well. Cook you could line up in the slot or at receiver if you wanted to and get both him and Lenny on the field together….think about the play calling possibilities and adding speed to our Big Boy offense (especially if we are thin at receiver and w/ Godwin’s situation).

    Cook would be a fun player to utilize and scheme for in our offense….and seems like a Brady type of back too. Could probably get in Rounds 3 or 4 possibly too which is nice.

  19. LongSeason Says:

    Perspective on 40 yard dash times.
    Emmitt Smith 4.52
    Warrick Dunn 4.58
    Barry Sanders 4.37
    Earl Campbell 4.70
    Jerome Bettis 4.48
    Mike Alstott 4.74
    James Wilder 4.86
    Jerry Rice 4.70
    “There is track speed and then there is football speed.” –Not sure which coach or GM said this, so I attribute this quote to Antoninus Nonymous the unknown Roman who ran Gladiator U. back in the day.

  20. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Want some quicks?? Sign Tavon Austin who runs 4.3 . He would flourish here.

  21. sasquatch Says:

    Short area quickness, vision, and power get a guy through the line. Breakaway speed is nice to have in a RB, but not super necessary.

  22. Marine Buc Says:

    @ LongSeason

    I agree.

    Plus – L. Fournette ran a 4.53 – 40… Not slow but not exactly blazing fast either.

  23. Marine Buc Says:

    Derrick Henry = 4.54 – 40.

    He seems to do just fine…

  24. SB Says:

    I’m with Jeebs. Damien Pierce is an all around back. Catches like a WR. Blocks like a beast. 4th rd would be awesome!

  25. GOB Says:

    Please don’t waste a high pick on a back.

  26. Dooley Says:

    D’Vonte Price or even Pierre Strong or Jerome Ford. there aren’t any consensus “best” RBs in this class, but there are certainly some guys who could sit behind our lead 3 and develop into solid players in a 2-3 years span. I really don’t think we’ll miss out on anybody if we don’t draft an RB at all, but I think that is less likely between the draft and UDFA period, we’ll add at least one more RB for rookie camp.

  27. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    I am definitely not a “homer”. My question is which round should we take Dalvin Cook in if we happen to draft him? (Include rounds that might result from a trade if you want.)

  28. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    P.S. I recall when Emmett Smith was a high school star in Pensacola. That’s how old I am. He is my all time favorite running back that I actually watched play. Of course there are others who can be argued as having been “better” at his position in the history of the NFL.

  29. Hahahaha Says:

    Ron Dyane 4.65 at 259 lbs. All time rusher.
    Multiple 200+ yards in bowl games. Fits Wolf’s criteria.
    Didn’t do squat in pros.

  30. Wild Bill Says:

    With the Bucs pass happy offense, a good runner with good hands is the best fit. Unless you can draft a Kamara type back. But nobody like Kamara will be around when the Bucs finally pick late in the draft.

  31. Rod Munch Says:

    I was going to say Emmitt Smith ran in the mid-4.6 range, but before I wrote that I decided to look it up…

    “On his first attempt, he was clocked at 4.53. His second 40-yard sprint yielded a surprising 4.46, but scouts discounted it because Smith had rocked back and forth prior to his takeoff. His final burst produced a 4.52”

    So nevermind, he was faster than I thought.

    Also that article has this nugget…

    ‘Perhaps no team has had an easier time evaluating Smith over the past three seasons as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who hold the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. But Tampa Bay scout Tim Ruskell said the Bucs have not determined where Smith ranks among other running backs in the draft.

    “Everybody knows speed is not Emmitt’s forte, but his speed is good,” Ruskell said. “Good enough to play. The main thing was making sure his run wasn’t disastrous, and it wasn’t. We’re still in the process of putting him in the big picture.”‘

  32. Rod Munch Says:

    Another surprise… I looked up Doug Martin’s combine numbers — assuming these are right…

    40-time, 4.46 — at 5′ 7″ and 223 pounds.

    I liked Martin, he was really productive in odd-numbered years, but I always thought he was a 4.6 guy with good quickness. Instead he was literally a fast player. I guess he was hitting his max speed early – so his 40 looked excellent, but he could get ran down since his top speed was limited by his short legs.

    Meanwhile Fournette is the opposite, he’s a big guy, taller, and takes longer to get to speed, but can run away from guys because he has a higher top speed.

    In any case I know dummies would get mad that Martin didn’t get a lot of 60 yard TDs, well dopes, no one gets a lot of 60 yard runs. If you can, however, get a lot of 20 yard gains, I’ll take that any day of the week over a once in 4-years 99-yard run.

  33. Walter Says:

    Lol Joe, I’m guessing Eddy “Lazy” was not a typo?

  34. Lakeland Steve Says:

    If he is still there the Bucs would do well to take Kenneth Walker from Michigan State. He definitely can run, he can catch and block. May be the best back in the draft and doesn’t seem injury prone. I think he will be long gone before we draft but that dude will be a star in the League.

  35. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I’ll take power over speed any day, personally. Speed is useless if they can’t find the holes and make use of them.

    Power can make the holes.

    Really, a little of both is good.

    We can have speed with the WRs.

  36. TampabayDJ82 Says:

    @Thadeus- “Trade Godwin and Lenny for McCaffrey”
    ??????? Are you serious ??? Why so we can NOT make the playoffs ? That’s the worst comment I’ve ever seen!! Dumbass

  37. Wild Bill Says:

    Haha. Maybe Thadeus is a 12 year old fan of McCaffrey? Good player but beat to death from overuse.

  38. Anonymous Says:

    I never want the Bucs drafting a RB ever again. They just keep drafting trash. Don’t bother. If we have to trade a late rounder for a backup somewhere. Drafting RBs is not a Buc strong suit. Now, can we get back to what’s important…… Who is going to block for Tom terrific and who is going to stop the other team from scoring? The front 7 bailed out the Dbacks in 2020 and then regressed hard in 2021. Now we have a bad front 7 and a bad backfield. Who cares about offense if the other team can score every drive.

  39. steele Says:

    There’s speed and there’s football speed. Terrell Davis’ 40 time was 4.72. Emmitt Smith 4.55. Lenny 4.51. Key Vaughn 4.51. Football speed+vision+instincts trumps timed speed any day.

    That said, Bucs could use a superior all-around back who is much better than Lenny. There are (still) many options.

  40. MadMax Says:

    Brian Robinson has always been my guy if we go this route….Lenny is back though, so I just didnt put much emphasis on that position anymore.

  41. Donald Belair Says:

    Horvath power runner or robinson 3rd round

  42. Connie Ellingson Says:

    Why not Breece Hall out of Iowa State?

  43. MadMax Says:

    Kenneth Walker III, michigan st could be a good one too….a sleeper for our 4th if we dont get Araiza.