Running Back – A Fill in for Doug Martin or a Replacement?
Since Doug Martin was drafted in 2012 he has only played a full season twice, his rookie season and the 2015 season where he finished 2nd in rushing yards. During the rest of his career he has missed a total of 23 games, and last season he was popped for substance abuse which earned him a four game suspension, three to be served at the beginning of the 2017 season.
Next on the depth chart is Charles Sims who in his three seasons has only played a full season once, also in 2015, missing a total of 17 games so far. During the time that Martin and Sims have been together they have missed a total of 30 games. This lead the team to pick Jacquizz Rodgers off the street and put him in as the starter. He performed very well with 129 carries and 560 yards but scored only two touchdowns.
While Sims and Martin were injured practice squad player Peyton Barber was also given a shot at running back, and he responded with 55 carries and 223 yard but only one touchdown. The Bucs finished with the 9th worst rushing offense in the league, averaging 101 yards per game and the 4th worst yards per carry average at 3.6, scoring only eight rushing touchdowns,, tied for 2nd worst in the league.
Obviously an upgrade at running back was needed and my prediction for the 1st round of the draft is they would have traded back and taken running back Dalvin Cook, but when O.J. Howard fell to them at 19 they could not pass him up (turning in their card in 2 minutes). They obviously did not value any of the other running backs as high (Marlon Mack, D’onta Foreman, Alvin Kamara, or Samaje Perine) on their board, and proceeded to wait until the 5th round to take Jeremy McNichols from Boise State.
McNichols is basically a Martin/Sims combination having speed similar to Sims and closer to Martin’s size, but he is probably the best pass catching running back in the whole draft. The biggest question is if he was picked all the way down in the 5th round, how much impact will he really have on the team? With Martin suspended the first three games and Sims having a history of injuries that leaves just Rodgers and Barber on the team and he is a better pass catcher then either of them. There will be a role for him and depending on how he performs early in the season when Martin is suspended his playing time could increase.
Did the Bucs really address this need?