Justin Pawlowski, CBSTampa

Yesterday, we got a good understanding for how new Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano feels about running backs who do not have a good handle on balls.

“No one who touches the football will get touches if they don’t protect the football,” Schiano told the Tampa Bay Times. “That is one of our core covenants: the ball. It’s so important, they named the game after it. So we make a big deal about that thing.”

While it is a safe assumption that Schiano was pointing many fingers at incumbant Legarrette Blount, I think it would also be safe to say that Schiano will use this notion during the evaluation process of the NFL draft.

There is little doubt that the Buccaneers will be selecting a running back sometime in April’s draft.  Last season, the Buccaneers went through the season with a total of four running backs; Legarrette Blount, Earnest Graham, Kregg Lumpkin, and Mossis Madu.  All four of these backs were undrafted free agents, and it’s safe to assume that Lumpkin (signed with Seahawks) and Graham (recovering from a torn Achilles Tendon) will not be returning for 2012.  The Buccaneers will still need running backs, and most of the top free agent backs have already signed this off-season.

As we head towards the draft, one of the many running backs being considered as an early round selection, might have already disqualified himself as a potential pick for the Buccaneers.  Virginia Tech’s David Wilson struggled to hold on to the football in 2011.  Through 231 carries on November 24, Wilson had fumbled 7 times and lost 4 of those fumbles.  If the criticism has already begun over Blount’s inability to hold on to the football, I can’t imagine that Schiano would want to draft another player with a similar problem.

With that said, Coach Schiano was quick to point out to the Tampa Bay Times that he’s already pretty smitten with another back.

“I’ve studied a lot of tape on (Richardson). He’s a very talented guy,” Schiano said. “I met him briefly. I look forward to spending more quality time with him here before the draft. You can’t argue with production.”

We have already entered the NFL Draft season, so everything we hear has to be taken with a grain of salt.  Despite whether Schiano’s comments are genuine or a smokescreen, the Buccaneers need a running back, and will most likely take one early in April’s draft.


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