Friday, September 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Could Martin's ban prompt Bucs to draft a running back in first round?

TAMPA — The news of Doug Martin's four-game suspension for violating the NFL's police on performance-enhancing drugs means the Bucs are no longer financially tied to him as their primary back next season.

That raises a new question: Could the Bucs use their first-round draft pick in April on a running back, hoping to get the kind of spark Ezekiel Elliott has given the Cowboys in leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie?

The Bucs have other pressing draft needs: finding a speed receiver to complement Mike Evans, a playmaking safety and even a dominating defensive tackle to line up next to Gerald McCoy.

But as long as coach Dirk Koetter has a run-first offense, establishing that run will be a priority, and the Bucs may not see a reliable answer now in Martin, or in Jacquizz Rodgers, who has played well at times this season, or Charles Sims, who has missed significant time to injuries in two of his three NFL seasons.

Elliott has made a huge, immediate impact for the Cowboys, but he was taken with the No. 4 overall pick. The Bucs (8-7) will likely pick around No. 18 in the 2017 draft, give or take a spot or two based on this weekend's games ending the regular season.

Drafting at 18, they almost certainly won't be able to get LSU's Leonard Fournette, seen by most draft experts as a rare back with franchise potential who is worth a top-five pick.

If the Bucs identify running back as their biggest need, this year's draft class has depth, which is probably a better option than the limited ones in free agency. Picking at 18, it's possible — though unlikely — they'd be able to land Florida State's Dalvin Cook, who played at FSU with quarterback Jameis Winston in 2014. Cook rushed for at least 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.

Mock drafts vary on Cook. CBS Sports and USA Today have him going 13th to the Colts. Fox Sports has him falling to No. 26.

Would the Bucs favor Cook over another top prospect, such as Stanford's Christian McCaffrey, or backs who could be picked in later rounds? Will they be more like the Saints, who drafted Mark Ingram in the first round in 2011, or the Falcons, who found a gem in Devonta Freeman in the fourth round in 2014?

The Bucs have shown a penchant for drafting Seminoles in recent years, with mixed results. Winston, taken No. 1 overall in 2015, is now a franchise quarterback. Kicker Roberto Aguayo, picked in the second round last year, has been inconsistent and is among the NFL's worst kickers in his rookie season.

When Florida State plays Michigan on Friday in the Orange Bowl in Miami, there will be a significant interest in draft talent on both sides. Wolverines safety Jabrill Peppers is a potential top-10 pick. FSU defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker is a likely first-round pick as well. Michigan tight end Jake Butt may be the top prospect at his position. Wolverines pass-rusher Taco Charlton and cornerback Jourdan Lewis could also go in the top 50.

In a few days, the Bucs will know where they will pick in the draft, and in a few months, there may be a better sense of whom they will pick.

   
Comments
Ryan Fitzpatrick said his only goal was to go 3-0 while Jameis Winston was suspended

Ryan Fitzpatrick said his only goal was to go 3-0 while Jameis Winston was suspended

Before Ryan Fitzpatrick filled the sky with footballs, connecting on deep passes and touchdowns, he was just the guy standing between the Bucs and what looked like a long losing streak after the suspension to quarterback Jameis Winston.But following ...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs-Steelers, Vita Vea, Rays’ playoff chances, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs-Steelers, Vita Vea, Rays’ playoff chances, more

It's our mailbag episode, with questions about how many games the Bucs can win this season, the reason for their offensive explosion and what we can expect from Vita Vea this week against the Steelers.Plus, what moves should the Rays make this offsea...
Updated: 5 hours ago
FitzMagic is everywhere, even in Cleveland

FitzMagic is everywhere, even in Cleveland

It feels like there's FitzMagic in the air everywhere these days, even in Cleveland.When Baker Mayfield came off the bench Thursday night to lead the Browns to a 21-17 win over the Jets — Cleveland's first victory in 635 days — he became ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs DT Vita Vea, CB Brent Grimes return to practice, could play vs. Steelers

Bucs DT Vita Vea, CB Brent Grimes return to practice, could play vs. Steelers

TAMPA — For the first time in seven weeks, Vita Vea played football Thursday.At least it looked like the rookie defensive tackle was playing football when he walked to the Bucs' practice field wearing a helmet and full pads and took a three-poi...
Published: 09/20/18
Tell us: What are you doing to celebrate FitzMagic?

Tell us: What are you doing to celebrate FitzMagic?

Have you fallen under the spell of FitzMagic?Are you growing a beard? Naming your dogs (or your kids) after Ryan Fitzpatrick? We want to hear from you.Let us know what you're doing to celebrate the hottest player in the NFL — Tampa Bay's own Ry...
Published: 09/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When might Jameis Winston return under center?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When might Jameis Winston return under center?

Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud on today's podcast to discuss if and when Jameis Winston might regain his job as starting quarterback of the Bucs.Plus, they talk about what Tony Dungy, who is set to be inducted into the Bucs' Ring of Honor, has met ...
Published: 09/20/18
Jameis Winston’s Uber ride will never be forgotten, and shouldn’t

Jameis Winston’s Uber ride will never be forgotten, and shouldn’t

Just when you thought it was fun to be a Bucs fan again. Just when you were blissfully under the spell of FitzMagic. Just when the Bucs were becoming the cool kids in the NFL with the latest greatest show on turf.Just as the good times have arrived, ...
Published: 09/19/18
Buccaneers-Eagles All-22: Why Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzmagic could be real

Buccaneers-Eagles All-22: Why Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fitzmagic could be real

It’s just a mirage.At any moment now, Ryan Fitzpatrick will come crashing back to Earth. He’ll go back to being the Fitzpatrick of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Quarterbacks don’t t...
Published: 09/19/18
Bucs’ Ryan Fitzpatrick is NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week. Again.

Bucs’ Ryan Fitzpatrick is NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week. Again.

It's Ryan Fitzpatrick's world, and the NFL is just living in it.For the second straight week, the Bucs quarterback was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week.Fitzpatrick becomes the first Bucs player to ever to win that award in back-to-back we...
Published: 09/19/18
Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers backing away from letter demanding benefits

Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers backing away from letter demanding benefits

Add Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks to the list of players who have publicly disavowed specific demands and threats in a letter published Tuesday listing 21 NFL greats demanding health insurance and pension for all members.The letter threatens a boyco...
Published: 09/19/18