Advertisement
  1. Bucs

Breaking down 2016 NFL draft: Running backs (w/ video)

FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2015, file photo, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) leaps over Penn State defender Trace McSorley (9) during an NCAA college football game in Columbus, Ohio. Elliott  is expected to be a first round pick at the NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon) NY167
FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2015, file photo, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) leaps over Penn State defender Trace McSorley (9) during an NCAA college football game in Columbus, Ohio. Elliott is expected to be a first round pick at the NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon) NY167
Published Apr. 25, 2016

Whom the Bucs have

Doug Martin (5-9, 223): Re-signed to a $35.7 million, five-year deal after finishing second in the NFL in rushing. How does he improve in 2016? Score more touchdowns — of the last 25 1,400-yard rushing seasons in the league, only four came with fewer rushing TDs than Martin's six last year.

Charles Sims (6-0, 211): Strong complement to Martin last year, topping 500 yards in rushing and receiving. Can team find a package to use them both (and their pass-catching skills) in same backfield?

Mike James (5-10, 223): Practice squad in 2015, 37 yards in 2014. Even with Bobby Rainey gone to Giants, needs to step up to make it as No. 3 RB in 2016.

Depth: There is none. The Bucs have only three tailbacks on the roster — what they dressed each week last season — and no fullback. Whether it's a late-round pick or postdraft signing, expect the team to add a tailback to challenge James for the No. 3 job, and a fullback — should the team decide to carry one in 2016.

Top five draft prospects

Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State (6-0, 225): Go back to the end of 2014: 220, 230 and 246 yards in three games closing out a national title for Buckeyes. Big-play potential, could go as high as No. 4 to Cowboys. Would Miami trade up if he falls past Dallas?

Derrick Henry, Alabama (6-3, 247): A workhorse — 36 carries in national championship win, 46 and 44 carries in other wins. His size is rare, even in the NFL. Does he sneak into the end of first round to a team such as Seattle?

Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech (5-10, 215): Less of a wow factor than top two but consistent production: 72 career rushing TDs, with 64 catches in 2014-15.

Alex Collins, Arkansas (5-10, 217): Three straight 1,000-yard seasons, with 20 touchdowns as a senior. Watch out for teammate Jonathan Williams.

C.J. Prosise, Notre Dame (6-0, 220): Converted receiver played just one season at running back and turned heads with 91-yard touchdown. Third round?

Under the radar

Marshaun Coprich, Illinois State (5-8, 207): Drug-related arrest is a red flag but blazing 4.47 speed — rushed for 1,967 yards and 23 TDs in 2015. Third-day steal.

Free agency

Bucs did well to keep Doug Martin after a stellar 2015 season, so there's continuity at a key part in their offense. They let No. 3 RB Bobby Rainey go in free agency and didn't re-sign Jorvorskie Lane, so there will be new depth behind Martin and Charles Sims.

Best guess

Could the Bucs take a late-round back to take Rainey's place, perhaps doubling up to help on returns as well? The No. 3 RB job is as wide open as any spot on the 53, so even an undrafted rookie could make the team with a strong summer.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge