Aug 3, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) runs with the ball during training camp at One Buc Place. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Defending Doug: Why Doug Martin Is More Like LaDainian Tomlinson than Shonn Greene

What do the following players have in common?

Kevin Jones in 2005, Cadillac Williams in 2006, Joseph Addai in 2007, Marshawn Lynch in 2008, Matt Forte in 2009, Shonn Greene in 2010, Dez Bryant in 2011, DeMarco Murray in 2012

Give up? They’re the players thrown together by Christopher Harris of ESPN to claim that Doug Martin will struggle in his second season in the NFL. The premise was that these second year players were drafted highly in fantasy football drafts in their second seasons, and “didn’t pan out.”

  • Kevin Jones was a constant injury risk, and suffered a major injury not long into his career. But his situation could be a cautionary tale for Martin. That’s a fair point, and it remains to be seen if Martin will remain healthy.
  • We all know what kind of injury risk Caddy was.
  • Joseph Addai was a byproduct of an incredible offense, and he produced solid numbers until missed games caught up to him as well.
  • Marshawn Lynch was not in the right situation for the middle portion of his career, but he was consistent for his first two years, and is a wildly different player than Martin.
  • Forte’s rookie season couldn’t compare to the yards per carry Martin had in 2012, and he still had a decent second year that was slightly lean on touchdowns.
  • I am sure Christopher Harris and many fantasy football experts had Greene ranked highly heading into 2010, but he showed nothing but a high placement on the Jets’ depth chart.
  • And Bryant and Murray are both injury prone inconsistent players who don’t compare to Doug Martin in any reasonable or logical way.

Comparing Martin To More Reasonable Competition

We’re discussed before how other successful first year running backs have fared in their sophomore campaigns, and you can read that article here. But let’s take a moment to compare Martin to a player who he’ll battle with at the top of fantasy football rankings this year.

Adrian Peterson.

Peterson appeared in 14 games in 2007, and carried the ball 238 times at a 5.6 yards per carry clip. That translates to 95.8 yards per game, and helped facilitate the 12 rushing touchdowns All Day would score that season.

Jul 27, 2013; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) as he leaves the field at training camp at Blakeslee Fields. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Martin did not have as impressive of a yards per carry average (but at 4.6 it’s better than the rookies seasons of Marshawn Lynch, Jamal Lewis, Darren McFadden, Matt Forte, LaDainian Tomlinson and more) , but his yards per game 90.9 compares favorably to Peterson. And with 30 more receptions than Peterson had in his inaugural season in the NFL, Martin provides a different element to ensure he’s on the field more often, and has more opportunities to build his statistical resume.

Peterson would see a decline in his yards per carry in his second season, but his overall increase in carries would boost him to an impressive rushing yardage total over 1700, and 10 touchdowns. Martin will likely see a slight increase in touches within the Buccaneers’ offense, and even with a slight decline in yards per carry he can easily approach 1500 or 1600 yards rushing. This becomes more likely should the team have an improved defense that gets off the field quickly and allows the offense to wear down the opponents’ defenders.

Now, let’s be even more bold. Let’s compare Doug Martin to the greatest running back of our generation, the earlier mentioned LT.

Tomlinson started off his career with the Chargers with a 336 carry season at 3.6 yards per carry, and an impressive 59 catches, with 10 total touchdowns. He improved in almost every area in his second year, carrying the ball more often, and for more yards per carry, and logging more touchdowns. He also chipped in more receptions and yards in the passing game.

Martin could easily follow a similar path to Tomlinson, who had a very, very similar height and weight combination as compared to the Dougernaut (Click here to see photos of the two standing side-by-side to see what I mean). The skillsets are also similar, as LT was a versatile back who would eventually haul in as many as 100 catches in a season.

It is far too early to call Doug the next AD or LT, and he lacks the same kind of two letter nickname these all-time greats could use. But with health and continued improvement (which I have seen with my own eyes in camp this summer), there’s no reason to believe that Doug Martin is anything like the horror stories that can be arbitrarily assigned to Martin as a second year player. Look back at the draft profile for Martin as assembled by Charlie Campbell and notice the laundry list of strengths and the virtual absence of weaknesses. His ability to break big plays and plow through tackles in his first season has already started to dispel doubts about his size and speed, so he could be better than advertised, which makes the move to select him in the first round in 2012 look even more wise day after day.

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