Even with the NFL draft upcoming, the key to the Buccaneers running game might just be with an incumbent, Jacquizz Rodgers.
The draft is just one week from today. The Buccaneers faithful will finally get the chance to end the speculation and find out the class of 2017. It’s an ironic time, some of you young readers out there are getting ready to be the class of 2017 and leave your school. In football, the class of 2017 JOINS a team. Sorry, flashing back to my graduation days. Back to the point.
We know that the Bucs are going to work on the running back position during the draft. Yes, Jameis Winston wants to play with Adrian Peterson. It has been reported that the team isn’t interested, and it is worth noting that a visit to Tampa is not scheduled as of the time of this post. So it looks like the Bucs are off to the NFL draft for a back. It could be Dalvin Cook, maybe Marlon Mack, or against my wishes, Joe Mixon. Whomever they decided to select, that person will be coming in the draft.
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First of all, I am not buying for a second that Doug Martin will be on this roster come week one. It’s nice that they have him now, and that he has attended the opening of the spring program. The fact is that they don’t have to get rid of him yet, since his money isn’t guaranteed. Expect it soon after the draft.
Even if we have the extreme and Martin returns, do you trust him to be his old self? He has been bad more often than good. It’s hard to make that leap to trust. Frankly, the same, at least for me, goes for Charles Sims. He hasn’t been healthy, or very good, at any time other than 2015. He flashes, but never puts it together.
You might suggest that the trust can lie in the drafted running back. It might be able to, but it might not. Remember, not all great running backs are great right away. Devonta Freeman is an example. It took him his full rookie season before he cracked the starting lineup and was able to go over the thousand yard mark. He racked up 248 yards rushing in year one. Jamaal Charles posted 357 yards in his rookie year. LeSean McCoy was better (637 yards), but he didn’t cross the thousand yard plateau either.
Not everybody can be Ezekiel Elliott. Some young players need time to grow into the role of NFL player. The competition is just not the same.
However, who consistently answered the bell in 2016? Jacquizz Rodgers. He posted back to back 100 yard games, and when he carried the ball at least 15 times, he never posted less than 63 yards. He eclipsed 15 caries in five games, and if you take his performance over those games, they project to over 1,200 rushing yards over a full season. He was consistent when given the football.
It is not unreasonable to think that Rodgers will be the starter week one. He may be relied upon early, and could be relied upon for a good portion of the season, even if Dalvin Cook is in the fold.
What do you guys think? Could Rodgers have a big role in 2017? Let me know…