Bucs get their RB: Boise State's Jeremy McNichols
After two days and five rounds, the Bucs have drafted a running back, using their fifth-round pick on Boise State's Jeremy McNichols, who rushed for 1,709 yards and 23 touchdowns last season.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter had his first head coaching job at Boise, and it's also where Doug Martin went to school -- there will be quite a battle among the Bucs running backs in training camp. McNichols is 5-foot-9 and 214 pounds -- he had 1,337 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2015 and has been an active pass-catcher with 474 receiving yards and another four touchdowns last fall.
"I know him pretty well -- we got to meet each other this spring. It's kind of ironic," McNichols said Saturday. "We're similar sizes and went to Boise State and we have a similar running style."
The Bucs now have Martin -- facing a three-game suspension to start the season and still not guaranteed a roster spot -- along with Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and Peyton Barber, all battling with McNichols for what is likely four roster spots at the most.
The parallels between McNichols and Martin are striking -- both 5-9, from California and Boise State -- and they finished within one spot of each other in the Boise career rushing records for yards, rushing touchdowns and 100-yard rushing games. McNichols was able to do that in three seasons, while Martin played four for the Broncos.
Boise State's current head coach, Bryan Harsin, played for Koetter as a quarterback at Boise, so there's a strong connection where an endorsement would mean more in the evaluation process.
"It was really comforting knowing he coached at Boise State before, and he had some of our coaches that he coached as players," said McNichols, who met with Koetter and Bucs assistants at the NFL combine.
McNichols is comfortable catching passes out of the backfield -- he had more than 100 receptions in his Boise career and started out as a receiver in high school, and said he also takes pride in his pass protection skills.
"I take huge pride in that -- I don't want anyone to ever touch the quarterback," he said. "I want to be a player that knows how to play without the ball."