TAMPA — Who needs Trent Richardson?
This is, in essence, what the Bucs said when they executed a trade late Thursday to land Boise State running back Doug Martin with the draft's 31st overall pick, giving the Bucs one of their projected second-round targets earlier than expected.
In doing so, the Bucs addressed a pressing need and beefed up a position seen as central to coach Greg Schiano's effort to play ball-control offense.
Martin, who rushed for 1,299 yards in 2011, averaged 4.9 yards per carry and 16 touchdowns and is considered a complete package who can pass protect and catch as well as run inside or outside.
"I would definitely agree with that," Martin said by phone. "My game is very versatile. I can pass protect and catch balls out of the backfield."
Schiano in recent weeks had raved about the skill set of Richardson, the Alabama running back taken third overall by the Browns. But when describing Martin's game, the coach painted a similar picture.
"You're talking about a guy who can run the football for sure," Schiano said. "He has patience as he runs. He's a mature runner. (He) can block. Can (catch). Then you see the stuff he does on special teams. I think it was in the bowl game, he takes the opening kickoff right to the house.
"So, you're talking about a guy who does it all for his football team and it's a team that has won."
In his career, the Stockton, Calif. native rushed for 3,431 yards and scored 43 touchdowns for a Boise State team that has been a perennial power in recent years. While he does not possess top-end speed, Martin is not easily tackled and could provide the physical running approach that the Bucs seek, though he's not one-dimensional.
"He'll come at you and run over you," Schiano said. "But he can make people miss."
And for evidence of his overall ability, consider the fact that Martin excelled on special teams for the Broncos and even played nickel cornerback at times.
The Bucs were thought to have a shot to draft Martin in the second round, but given the reasonable cost to trade up for him -—they yielded their second-round pick (36th overall and swapped fourth-round picks with Denver), the Bucs preferred not to leave things to chance.
The reason for the move? A fear that remaining running backs might start disappearing.
"There was a concern there was going to be a run on running backs real quick," general manager Mark Dominik said.
Thusly, the Giants picked Virginia Tech running back David Wilson with the next pick, 32nd overall. The Giants were seen as a potential landing spot for Martin, who thought his hopes of being chosen in the first round were slipping away.
"I had a feeling the Bucs had an eye on me," he said. "But it was a little nerve racking at the end of the first round."
Now, the Bucs enter Day 2 of the draft with a third-round pick, 68th overall, possibly looking to fill needs at linebacker and cornerback. Even after a night of twists and turns on Thursday, the Bucs' draft is, in essence, only just beginning with five total picks remaining.