General manager Jason Licht spoke glowingly Thursday about how he believes the running back can soar in 2020.
“We do think Ronald hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can be,” Licht said, via the team’s official website. “He made a huge jump from year one to year two. He didn’t have to do much to do that because year (one) wasn’t very good for him. But year two, we felt very good about where he came, and we think he still has a tremendous amount of upside.”
Jones averaged 4.2 yards per attempt on 172 carries for 724 yards and six TDs last season. The 22-year-old back came on strong down the stretch, including closing out the year with the first 100-plus yard game of his career. Jones displayed power and an ability to bust big plays once he trusted the blocking.
Despite Jones proving to be the much better option during the second half of the season, the Bucs still gave Barber 154 carries last season. Barber averaged 3.1 yards per carry for 470 yards and six TDs.
“We have a lot of faith in Ronald, and in fact, we have more faith in him now that we ever have,” Licht said. “But that’s another position, as you can tell [when] you look across the league, some of the better teams they have one, two or three guys, sometimes four, that they can rely on in different roles in their offense.”
Coach Bruce Arians has spoken multiple times about the Bucs’ desire to add a third-down back who can be a better pass-catcher than Jones — 38 receptions for 342 yards through two years.
Tampa projects as a team destined to draft a running back at some point during the 2020 NFL Draft. Whether that’s with an early pick or late pick, and whether that player is a three-down back or a pass-catching specialist, will tell us more about what the Bucs truly think of RoJo’s prospects in 2020 than anything Licht said this week.