New Buccaneers Playmaker Puts Leonard Fournette on Notice

Rachaad White

Getty Rachaad White plans to compete with Leonard Fournette to be the Buccaneers' RB1.

Newest Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White does not lack for confidence. The recent Bucs third-round pick made it clear that he is coming for Leonard Fournette’s job. During a May 4, 2022 interview on “The Jim Rome Show,” White admitted that he is aiming to be the Bucs RB1 next season despite the presence of Fournette, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Gio Bernard already being on the roster. While White emphasized he wants to learn from Fournette, the new Bucs playmaker emphasized that his first job is to be a “competitor first.”

“What I’m looking forward to for the Buccaneers, I know they’re going to put me into a great situations, great spot,” White explained. “My expectation, my goal is I’m going in there competing. I want to be the starting running back. That’s how it go. I know I got Lenny in front of me. I’m going to soak up a lot of knowledge from Lenny and that running back room, Giovani Bernard. That’s just the type of guy I am, but I’m always a competitor first.

“I’m just doing my job. Whatever my coaches need me to do, whatever Tom [Brady] need me to do. I’m just there to do my job. Like I said, be the best player I can possible be, be the smartest player. I know Tom can help slow the game down for me. I can learn a lot from him even though we play different positions. I can understand just how to get better in certain ways, certain areas.”

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White Had 1,456 Total Yards & 16 TDs in 2021

White posted 182 rushes for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns averaging 5.5 yards per carry in 2021. The former Arizona State rusher also added 43 receptions for 456 yards and a touchdown. Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht cited White’s ability to contribute in the passing game as a major reason why the franchise was willing to invest a third-round pick on the rookie back.

“Well, that was a big reason that we liked him and took him where we did,” Licht told reporters during the team’s post-draft press conference. “He’s been very involved in that offense in the passing game. He’s got great hands. It’s very important to him to be involved in the offense in the passing game and has a lot of pride in that. So, whenever there’s a lot of backs that are two-down backs, when you have a three-down back, you put them up a little bit higher on the board for us, especially in our offense. So, I think he’s got a chance to be a big asset for us in that regard.”

White Will Likely Compete to Be the Bucs Passing Downs RB

Despite White’s confidence, Tampa Bay’s new rusher’s first opportunity will likely be to compete with Bernard as the team’s preferred passing downs back. This is a critical role given Tom Brady’s affinity for utilizing the running backs in the passing game. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had White ranked as his No. 12 running back and views the rusher as more of an NFL backup than a traditional RB1.

“White out-leverages pursuit with his lateral agility and decision-making on the move, which allows him to create chunk plays despite his average top-end speed,” Brugler detailed. “Though he needs to improve in pass protection, he is a dependable pass-catcher with tracking skills and body control. Overall, White will leave some production on the field, but his explosive, darting run style allows him to collect his feet and find yardage that wasn’t blocked for him. He projects as a backup capable of steady NFL playing time.”

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