The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not had the best run of luck with running backs during the last decade-plus. Few have disappointed quite as much as Jeremy McNichols though.
He was a bust. But how? He was a fifth-round draft pick. How do guys drafted on day three become busts? When they don’t even make it past training camp in their rookie season.
One could argue he was a victim of the over hyping of the 2017 Bucs. Perhaps they’d have a point. Either way, the team has moved on as has McNichols I’m sure, and now there’s a new kind of running back in Tampa.
His name is Shaun Wilson. For those of you who haven’t met him, allow me to introduce you.
Wilson is 5’9 185 pounds and spent four years playing running back for the Duke Blue Devils.
Perhaps more interesting for fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the fact he has 67 kickoff returns with two touchdown returns and a yards per return average of 25.3 yards.
So, not only does he come in at an area of need for the team, but he fills a special teams area of need as well.
Now, we haven’t hit training camp yet, so there’s cause to curtail a little of the excitement we’d like to build right now. Still, he’s turning some heads, and Dirk Koetter touched on his performance after a recent mini-camp practice,
"“…Shaun Wilson has done a really nice job. He’s a smaller guy so durability will be the question. But he had a nice punt return today, really good hands, good route runner. He’s smart, he’s picked things up.”"
Speaking of punts. Wilson had six of those in his collegiate career with a .7 yards per return average. Not encouraging.
However, college stats don’t always signal NFL successes or failures.
Just like McNichols’ perceived strengths as a runner, pass catcher and overall player didn’t pan out. There are some big differences between the failed Boise State draftee and this Duke undrafted free-agent.
The first being just that. McNichols came in as the only running back drafted in a highly touted class which ended up being even better than most thought it would be. Wilson on the other hand was not among the names called in yet another highly touted class.
McNichols came in to the Bucs camp and almost immediately it seemed concerns turned to his mental ability and whether or not he could catch up to the speed of the game. Even special teams was an issue, and this is usually where late round and undrafted rookies make their money.
Wilson? Well, coach Koetter called him smart. Said he’s picking things up. Encouraging signs.
Don’t release Charles Sims just yet, but maybe keep your twitter feed, eyes and ears open to see more as Shaun Wilson strives to make the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad.