Depth was an issue with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a lot of positions—but especially at fullback—in 2014.
The Bucs carried just one for the majority of the season (Jorvorskie Lane). But when Lane broke a bone in his leg and had to miss the final five games of the season, the Bucs used running backs and tight ends to try to compensate for his absence.
Now, Lane will have some competition for his position.
With their seventh-round pick, the Bucs drafted fullback Joey Iosefa from Hawaii.
Iosefa is compact at 6’0” and 247 pounds. While he’s not the fastest guy on the field (he had the slowest 40 time among running backs), Iosefa blocks well and catches even better.
In his career at Hawaii, Iosefa had 60 career catches. He was a quarterback in high school so in college he was able to execute some fullback passes.
Tampa Bay is excited to have him.
“He’s a big running back,” said Bucs general manager Jason Licht to the Tampa Bay media shortly after drafting Iosefa. “He runs well for his size. He has great hands [and is] a really good athlete.
“We’re going to give him a shot at the starting fullback role,” Licht said. “We’ll let him compete for that. We’re excited for him.”
On the downside, Iosefa does have some flags.
He missed a lot of games due to foot injuries during his junior season and then suffered an ankle injury and missed four more games in 2014.
Injuries weren’t the only things that kept Iosefa off the field. He was suspended for three games after being arrested for DUI in 2014.
Lane also missed two games in 2014 due to suspension. He violated the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. He said he took an over-the-counter supplement to deal with weight issues.
Now, he will have to deal with competition from Iosefa.
They are two different backs.
While Lane is an above-average blocker, he has feet like a running back and is as likely to try to juke a defender as he is to lower his shoulder and try to overpower him.
That’s not Iosefa.
One scouting report from NFL.com said Iosefa doesn’t mind putting his shoulders into a linebacker who is trying to make a tackle. The report also said Iosefa often looks to lean into contact.
When the Bucs did run the ball well, it was mostly out of a two-back set. When Lane went down, it slowed the running game tremendously.
The Bucs will likely have some two-back packages in their system under new offensive coordinator Kirk Koetter. Koetter, who was with the Atlanta Falcons, ran packages that featured fullbacks as well as just a single back.
Iosefa may be able to find a role with the team.
Staying healthy may be the team’s only concern with him.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.