The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a running back to split carries with starter LeGarrette Blount, but the Bucs don’t have to select Trent Richardson with the fifth pick in the draft. They can play it smart and select Morris Claiborne with that pick, instead of picking a running back too high. With their second round pick, draft experts are keying in on Boise State running back Doug Martin, who is the second best back in this class behind Richardson. The Bucs should take Claiborne and Martin with their first two picks and take care of two major needs, while also picking within their value range.
Although Doug Martin isn’t a great pure running back, he does everything well and has the overall ability to be a starting back in the NFL and a great No. 2. He’s more versatile and better than David Wilson, who is mainly a speed-first back and does little else. While Wilson is swift and talented, he isn’t as consistent nor up to Martin’s level of play overall.
Martin is a powerful back with a strong lower body and a great center of gravity. He is a hard worker who plays the game with heart, and his intangibles are absolutely off the charts. He is not an electrifying back by any means, but he has good lateral agility and has the ability to propel himself for big yardage with quick bursts of speed. He is almost a sure bet to produce at the NFL level, and he can quickly become a workhorse back who is capable of shouldering 200 carries per season.
To supplement his agility and allow the determined runner to pick up yards after contact, Doug Martin has great balance and can run into crowded spaces with more fluidity than most backs. His overall speed is mediocre at best, but that’s a minor concern with his power, burst, agility, and work ethic.
Everyone admires Martin because of his determination to pick up yardage, because he almost never goes down with the first hit. He’s always trying to do what he can to get a couple of yards for his team, and the Bucs- heck, almost every team- needs a player like that. Martin is regarded as a weight room warrior, and he is always willing to work to help his team win. In fact, Martin first arrived at BSU buried under the depth chart at RB. He spent some time as a defensive back just to play some ball for the Broncos, and then he moved to running back and became the excellent back as we know him today. Who else does that? That’s called a will to succeed.
In the open field, Doug Martin comes out running with that burst of speed I talked about earlier. This is a guy who has the ability to be a factor in the passing game, and he is very good in blitz pick-up situations. Watch for Martin’s speed, because he’s actually faster than his solid 4.47 forty time indicates. Although he has underwhelming straight-line speed, he plays faster than his time and can get to full speed quickly in the open field with solid acceleration.
Martin runs with a good pad level, and this allows him to have excellent balance and absorb hits. Defensive players have trouble getting this guy down, and he racks up broken tackles. The well-built running back has a good mix of speed and power, which is always something you look for in a workhorse back. He has never suffered a major injury and has proven that he can hold up as the No. 1 back thus far.
Coaches love running backs who aren’t purely runners, and Doug Martin is an upgrade to Blount in two regards. Blount isn’t as good of a pass-catcher as Martin, whose soft hands have earned praise from scouts. Blount is also suspect as a pass blocker, while Martin is one of the best high-profile, pass protecting running backs that you will ever see coming out of college.
Although he isn’t explosive, the hard-working Martin expectedly hits the hole hard. That does hurt him sometimes, as he doesn’t have the greatest anticipation or vision in the world and can run himself into crowded spaces. However, his ability to run well in these types of scenarios and use his agility to side-step defenders aids him greatly to get yards after contact in these scenarios.
Doug Martin has terrific short-area burst and excel running between the tackles or on the outside. Although he isn’t flashy and isn’t regarded as a “pure upside” guy, some argue that he is the most reliable back in this class. Martin is a sure thing to be at least a solid back, because he does everything well. He isn’t terrific in any regard, but his size (5’9″) shouldn’t be a concern due to his power, work ethic, leverage, and strength. Speed isn’t a concern either, because he runs in the high 4.4s and higher, given that Martin is faster in games than while being timed.
There are only a few flaws to Martin’s game, and he is definitely worth a high-second round pick. The Bucs should definitely think hard about drafting this guy, because he fits what this team does and is the perfect combination for Blount. The current Bucs back is a home-run threat and is a great, flashy pure rusher who struggles with some of the other aspects of the game. Martin, however, is good at basically everything and excels at stuff like pass-catching and blocking.
Doug Martin does a nice job of turning the corner whilst using his blocks and getting to the outside, and he has the ability to become an even better pass blocker and receiver as he gets coached up on his technique at the NFL level. In college, Boise State under-utilized him as a receiver, so don’t buy into the numbers.
With an incredible amount of lower body strength, solid speed, great balance, good hands, great pass blocking, a solid game running on the outside, high character, off-the-charts work ethic, and the willingness to be coached up, Doug Martin is a great fit for the Bucs in the second round. They don’t have to take Richardson and can get their bona fide CB while also drafting a great running back. Don’t overlook Martin, because he is as consistent as it gets and has all the tools to be a good back in this league.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.