The Running Backs Record

April 22nd, 2023

A draft success?

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht has a unique history when it comes to the running backs position as he prepares to enter his 10th draft for Tampa Bay.

There’s a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to Licht’s record at the running back position.

Joe can’t give Licht a great grade, though the success of the running backs in the Super Bowl counts has to count an awful lot. So Joe will give Licht a strong C+ when it comes to the position.

Licht inherited Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin coming off an injury-plagued 2013 season, promising second-year man Mike James and Bobby Rainey. Not a bad group, but the Bucs certainly were primed for an upgrade.

So Licht drafted Charles Sims in Round 3 of the 2014 NFL Draft. Sims was miserable behind the ugly 2014 Bucs offensive line, one of the worst in team history. But a year later, Sims and Martin arguably were the most dangerous backfield duo in the NFL. Martin went back to the Pro Bowl and Sims had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, including 51 catches for 561 yards and four touchdowns. (Joe would love that kind of production from Rachaad White this season!)

Injuries derailed Sims’ career and drugs horsecollared Martin.

Both strugged in 2016 while overachieving free agent pickup Jacquizz Rodgers led the team in rushing.

2017 fifth-round pick Jeremy McNichols

Then Licht forced Joe into mental health counseling. The GM passed on multiple superstar running backs in the 2017 draft and chose Jeremy McNichols in Round 5 (aka Snoop Dogg McPlaybook); he didn’t make the team. And Licht opted to stick with Martin following his drug suspension and despite posting horrendous film in 2016.

Next came undrafted Peyton Barber to lead the running backs room, which set up the drafting of Ronald Jones in Round 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

And that’s where it gets interesting.

Joe sees RoJo as a strong draft pick. Yeah, he struggled as a rookie, but he improved a ton in his second season after Bucco Bruce Arians took over. And then RoJo was the team’s leading rusher in the Super Bowl season of 2020. Scoreboard for Licht. The GMs goal is to build a Super Bowl winner, and RoJo was a key cog.

Dude averaged 5.1 yards per carry and had 7 touchdowns on the ground in 2020. Leonard “Playoff Lenny” Fournette got the headlines, but RoJo carried most of the mail.

And speaking of Playoff Lenny, Licht stayed patient and didn’t trade for Fournette, who was being dangled by Jacksonville during the 2020 offseason. Licht was able to grab Playoff Lenny after the Jags cut him and the rest is Bucs history.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn arrived in Round 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft. He hasn’t gotten much of a shot. However, Vaughn did lead the team in rushing for multiple weeks of the 2021 season. And he carried 17 times in the playoff win against the Eagles. Then Vaughn was buried, a fact that seems to baffle Licht, per his public comments. Vaughn rushed only 17 times last season, matching his playoff-game total of 2021.

Rachaad White was drafted as a third-round pick in 2022. The jury is still out on him, especially when Joe looks at the studs drafted after White last April.

Again, a strong C+ for Licht when it comes to running backs.

And this is a big year for Licht in the RB department, with an enhanced focus on the run game and after talking big about White a few weeks ago.

28 Responses to “The Running Backs Record”

  1. All_da_way Says:

    For whatever reason the Bucs have a tendency to draft straight line, down hill RBs under Licht. For a change I think the Bucs need to draft a more agile RB to compliment White and Vaughn.

  2. MadMax Says:


  3. Pewter Power Says:

    Licht almost never does what fans expect I’d say vea was obvious and a few others but knowing the guy he’ll put all his chips in the Rachaad White pick and go with a late round rb that just screams Licht logic

  4. Bucs Guy Says:

    It’s the Alstott effect.

  5. Bucs Guy Says:

    Still trying to draft his replacement for the power running game

  6. MadMax Says:

    Im not trying to knock Licht, i mean Ive had a few doozies too….but I dont recall anyone on here, not one person, pushing for him to draft White, or Goedeke, or Hainsey, or JTS…a few others I probably cant think of at the moment since im sleep deprived from working my regular job and studying draft prospects…

    But it does seem that when he listens to some of us, he does draft better….just like when the Joe’s were pushing for Godwin and Winfield (I was a late arrival on the Winfield wagon, saw the potential about 2 weeks before the draft)

    Again, Im a late arrival on LB Jack Campbell which I havent really seen anyone pushing, but I wasnt studying LB prospects until Diva went stupid on us….so if we really do trade him (i hope) we need some Captain Jack baby!!!

  7. Goatfarmer Says:

    Vaughn has a chance to be good if he’s not already ruined between his former offensive uncoordinator and current head coich.

  8. Goatfarmer Says:

    And everyone – listen to MadMax.


  9. Buc4evr Says:

    I always thought RoJo was a good RB that wasn’t used properly and that Vaughn given the chance could be good, but he never seems to be given a chance to be in the game for more than a few plays at a time. Think if Vaughn is fed the ball more he can develop into a punishing runner. It was all about Lenny so let’s hope Vaughn is given a bigger role this year.

  10. Fred McNeil Says:

    Apparently, it’s pretty easy to find yourself in the running back doghouse in Tampa.

  11. Just Saying Says:

    C+ feels extremely generous

  12. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    I’m not trying to knock Licht, i mean I’ve had a few doozies too….but I don’t recall anyone on here, not one person, pushing for him to draft White

    Yeah I was really pushing hard for the Bucs to trade down a few spots and draft
    the two Mississippi St prospects.

    • 1st Jeffrey Simmons (DT) 6′ 4″ 301<-
    • 2nd Elgton Jenkins (RG) 6' 4" 304<-


    April 22nd, 2019 at 11:46 am<–

    Jeffrey Simmons is hands down – a Top-5 Prospect.

    Don’t be shocked in 3 or 4 years from now – Simmon is considered the best or one of the best from this class.

    Jeffrey Simmons & Vita together…smh

  13. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    Our brotha NOSBOS was pushing Devin White hard though

  14. Mike Says:

    Even with Pewter colored glasses on, he’s nowhere near a C+ grade with those picks, and I liked Rojo. Needs to probably stick to drafting O-Linemen.

  15. Jon Grudin Says:

    Improving the O line and changing the O coordinator from Lefty to Canales and having a more mobile occasional run threat QB will make our existing RB corps much better.

  16. Jon Grudin Says:

    Three things
    1. A new more imaginative O Coordinator from Lefty.
    2. A new starting OT and improved O line
    3. A more mobile and occasional run threat QB

    Can immediately make our existing RBs White, Sneak and Edmunds a huge upgrade over last year.

  17. MadMax Says:

    LUV, yeah me and Nos was one of the first pushing for Devin White, but I was referring to Rachaad White….I shouldve been a little more clear with the name lol.

    Who knows, maybe a switch will flip on and someone like JTS will finally turn into a great player…Goedekey and Hainsey too. I think R. White has potential but its just weird those guys names were called pretty high in the draft when more popular names were out there and have already been better players.

    Shoot look at all of the research we were posting here years ago….back when I was pushing for Marpet, and then Vea not long after that….I specifically remember you saying we both wouldve built a Superbowl team by now, but then it happened about 3 years later after I was losing my mind in november on here saying to go after Brady…and was laughed at by so many, haha. Even my football fanatic coworkers called me crazy….and then it happened. I definitely can tell sometimes certain people who are bored in the wee hours of the early mornings get on here just to see what some of us are posting. And hey, we’re not even getting paid….its just a hobby lol.

  18. bob in valrico Says:

    This was a offense that Leftwich ,with Brady’s input devised. If you are going to throw the ball to Lenny 73 times and only get 26 first downs, then its time to stop
    doing what you’re doing. They also turned Godwin into a possession receiver with a career low 9.8 yards per catch. He did turn 53 of his 104 receptions into first downs. Mike Evans had 53 first downs of his 77 receptions. My point is we needed
    backs to be more involved in protection to give Brady time to target the best
    options to move the chains.

  19. Allbuccedup Says:

    Maybe D+ whats rojo doing now?

  20. Allbuccedup Says:

    Peyton Barber was just as good as Rojo and undrafted.

  21. Fansince76 Says:

    i would give him a B for Jones, White and Vaughn who has a chance to be good.

  22. Voice of Truth Says:

    He has blind spots at RB and loves those nowhere school lineman – can’t resist a kick specialist either

    The line has worked, the RB/k have not – ROJO was/is a head case, McNichols did hang with the titans for a few years- but overall pretty bad – kind of like his selection of kickers thru the years – for every Jake there is a Roberto or two

    When is he going to find a Pacheco?

  23. Hogg Wild Says:

    But Joes haven’t you heard that Rachaad White is a stud who would beat out Bijan for #1 on the depth chart if drafted? He changed his number to 1. Surely drafting a guy like that should bump this grade up to at least a B+

  24. Buc4evr Says:

    Want to improve the running game, get O linemen and TEs that can run block. The answer is not drafting more RBs every year thinking that the situation is going to change with the latest rookie rb. Seems like Bowles likes to blame the rb for everything and gives the pathetic O line a pass.

  25. IE Buc Says:

    I wasn’t thrilled with the Vaughn pick because I couldn’t believe we passed on Zack Moss. However, I believed we needed him to get carries in the Rams playoff game that went wrong two seasons ago and should have been part of the rotation last season.

    I was advocating trading Lenny at the trade deadline due to his dud of a season. Vaughn should have been used in combo with White. White as RB1 and Vaughn as RB2.

    Vaughn had an unfortunate preseason on which he was involved in some of the o-line injuries, but he deserves his shot this coming season.

  26. Infomeplease Says:

    I think we all know that a great OL can make an average RB look good and a good RB look great! Also throw in the ability of the TE to help. And then there’s the jumbo package.

    I believe if the Bucs can shore up the OL and Canales’ spread schemes reduce predictability. The Bucs may already have very capable RBs in White, Vaughn, and recently acquired Chase Edmonds. Of course the Bucs will add someone in the draft. Re-build the OL first!

  27. Just Leave Trask Alone Says:

    Bucs had issues last season being physical in the run game. We all saw it. It’s the elephant in the room. I don’t think White is going to be that kind of back.
    I’m not even sure if Vaughn is given a fair opportunity he can’t beat White out for the top spot. Both those guys fit the versatile back role – Vaughn might be a touch more sudden and have better top end speed. Not that I’m down on White. Those guys can both run and catch. Neither are big yards after contact guys.

    The Bucs need a bruiser. A big back that is going cause some hesitation on the defense. I really liked the tape on this kid Tavion Thomas, but his recent legal troubles are a dq. Read about it. It’s not good at all.

    The other kid I liked was Kendre Miller out of TCU. 220 with speed, breaks tackles. Fumbles were a bit high, but that can be coached.

    Charbonnet has already been covered on JBF. I like him too.

    I’m thinking we stay away from RBs in the 1st round.

  28. TonySoprano Says:

    C+? One could argue every RB draft pick of Licht’s was a bust. He keeps drafting these high-waisted, skinny legged, upright runners that have little wiggle and marginal speed. I seriously don’t understand how he evaluates running backs.