Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
A bit of a wild card in the Bucs’ 2016 outlook is the still undetermined status of Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin. The running back will enter his fifth season having two standout years and two injury plagued disappointment seasons. One of those disappointing years led the Buccaneers to drafting Charles Sims, and as early as week 1 of 2015, the Buccaneers seemed to be positioning Sims to take over full time.
Then Martin exploded and tightened his grip as the feature back in Tampa, ending the season as the league’s second best runner. Now, the talk of the town is keeping Martin in it, but the price tag has increased substantially. While both sides still claim to be working towards a unified goal of keeping Martin in Pewter, the truth may turn out to be Martin moving elsewhere, and the Bucs looking to the draft for a running back to compliment Sims.
Heisman winner Derrick Henry would be just the guy to pair with Sims if this were the case. The big strong back has straight line speed and big run ability, but his NFL outlook is points to being a short yard and tough running backup.
As Alabama’s feature back during their title run in 2015, Henry made his mark and often times left opponents looking downright overmatched. His deceptive speed in the open field led to bad angles by defenders and left Henry open for big gains when meeting little resistance at the point of attack. However, in passing situations and for edge runs requiring more speed, the Crimson Tide often turned to the faster and more agile Kenyon Drake. This points to a hole in Henry’s game which will be exploited at the NFL level unless he can fix it.
While the duo of Sims and Henry may not be as fruitful, the Buccaneers have little depth behind Sims currently. If Sims is thrust into the starting role by Martin’s departure, Henry would provide a strong between the tackles option to the Buccaneers much like LeGarrette Blount once did.