Can Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones re-claim even a sliver of the potential he had when he was drafted out of USC last year? It seems like he lost his swagger in training camp last summer and it kept him from being a contributor for all of 2018. For crying out loud, he had 30 touches in nine games! Bruce Arians seemed to take a liking to Jones during the offseason and didn't add any serious competition to the backfield for him or starter Peyton Barber. Fantasy managers will be shy to take Jones with any draft pick, but if he makes headlines in August, his stock will shoot up into at least the middle rounds. Even without the headlines, Jones is a decent late-rounder.
Jones is up to 221 pounds after playing at approximately 208 pounds during his rookie season last year, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The added weight is by design, with Jones emphasizing he's been working with a personal trainer this offseason and following a nutritional regimen designed to add lean muscle. The decision to add extra pounds is somewhat interesting for Jones, whose speed was one of the main factors that inspired the Buccaneers' previous regime to select him with the 38th overall pick of the 2018 draft. Jones appears to have a clean slate with the new coaching staff headed by Bruce Arians and has received strong reviews for his work in non-contact practices throughout the offseason. It remains to be seen whether he'll continue demonstrating improvement once the pads come on for training camp, where Jones and Peyton Barber are expected to battle for backfield snaps.
The Buccaneers are excited about the progress Jones displayed during their offseason program, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. Actions speak louder than words, and the Bucs certainly made a statement with their lack of offseason additions to the backfield. Everything points to a fantastic opportunity for Jones, a 2018 second-round pick who averaged 1.9 yards on 23 carries and 4.7 yards on seven catches in nine games during his rookie season. He'll likely open training camp sharing first-team snaps with Peyton Barber, while the rest of the depth chart holds Dare Ogunbowale, 30-year-old Andre Ellington and undrafted rookie Bruce Anderson. New coach Bruce Arians must be a believer in Jones and/or Barber.
Jones has been impressive as both a runner and receiver during the first two weeks of OTAs, Carmen Vitali of the Buccaneers' official site reports. Perhaps no player on the offense has more to prove than Jones, who fell disastrously short of expectations as a 2018 second-round selection. His offseason got off to a positive start off the field with an early endorsement from new coach Bruce Arians, and the second-year back has validated the vote of confidence over the first two weeks of on-field work. On Thursday, Jones looked particularly elusive after bringing in passes, according to Vitali. Plus, Jones also earned praise from Arians after last Tuesday's session. While Peyton Barber still sits atop the depth chart and there's talk of getting him more involved in the passing game as well, Jones possesses a much more dynamic skill set that could potentially earn him significant playing time if it translates to the regular season.
General manager Jason Licht said Jones has impressed the new coaching staff more than any other player so far this spring, Greg Auman of The Athletic reports. The 2018 second-round pick barely played as a rookie and struggled with his rare opportunities, but coach Bruce Arians made it clear Jones would have a chance to prove himself in a new system. While he could face more competition after the 2019 NFL Draft, the 21-year-old currently finds himself in an underwhelming backfield alongside Peyton Barber, Shaun Wilson, Andre Ellington and Dare Ogunbowale. The Buccaneers do seem to be fond of Barber, who managed just 3.7 yards per carry and 4.6 per catch as a 16-game starter in 2018, finishing with 963 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns on 616 snaps (254 touches).
Jones played only one offensive snap Sunday in the Buccaneers' 34-32 loss to the Falcons. For the final quarter of his rookie season, Jones earned only one touch on offense while being mostly relegated to a special-teams role. It amounts to a disappointing conclusion for Jones, who was expected to vie for the starting role when he was selected with a second-round pick back in April. Instead, Peyton Barber served as the top ballcarrier throughout the season while Jacquizz Rodgers handled much of the passing-down work, even though neither player was particularly efficient with his opportunities. The Buccaneers' overhaul of their coaching staff this offseason should give Jones a clean slate, but the 21-year-old will still need to impress in spring workouts, training camp and the preseason to secure a meaningful role heading into 2019.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/08||San Francisco 49ers||20||19.00|
|3||09/22||New York Giants||23||19.88|
|4||09/29||@Los Angeles Rams||14||17.26|
|5||10/06||@New Orleans Saints||3||12.44|
|11||11/17||New Orleans Saints||3||12.44|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||23||44||1||7||33||0||13|