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2017 NFL draft, Day 3: Buccaneers take a running back (finally) and a very big and very old man

 
Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols catches a 76-yard touchdown pass last season against Brigham Young. With the 162nd overall pick, the Bucs drafted him Saturday. [Getty Images]
Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols catches a 76-yard touchdown pass last season against Brigham Young. With the 162nd overall pick, the Bucs drafted him Saturday. [Getty Images]
Published May 1, 2017

Here are some things you should know about running back Jeremy McNichols and defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, the Buccaneers' final two selections of the NFL draft:

Jeremy McNichols

1. Get this man some ice: McNichols was a workhorse at Boise State. Depending upon your perspective, that means he either can "carry the load" or has "lost tread." Of the 16 running backs taken before him, he had more touches (642) over the past two seasons than all but three of them (Donnel Pumphrey, Christian McCaffrey and Brian Hill). He had nearly 200 more touches than Leonard Fournette, the first running back taken.

McNichols will start his NFL career recovering from an injury. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said Saturday that the running back had surgery after the combine to repair a torn labrum but will be ready for training camp.

2. Another versatile weapon: During the first two days of the draft, Tampa Bay came away with two pass catchers who also were capable run blockers in tight end O.J. Howard and receiver Chris Godwin. In the fifth round, they added a running back who also is a reliable pass catcher. McNichols might not be a home run type of rusher — those are hard to find this late in the draft — but he can make big plays in the passing game.

In my "explosive plays per touch" metric, he holds his own among the big names who catch passes out of the backfield.

Explosive pass plays* per 100 catches during college careers

Player, collegeNFL teamRound (pick)Plays
Alvin Kamara, TennesseeSaints3 (3)24.3
Jeremy McNichols, Boise StateBucs5 (18)23.3
Christian McCaffrey, StanfordPanthers1 (8)22.2
Dalvin Cook, Florida StateVikings2 (9)21.5
Curtis Samuel, Ohio StatePanthers2 (8)20.6
Joe Mixon, OklahomaBengals2 (16)20.0
*Pass plays of at least 16 yards

3. Pro Football Focus compares him to Pierre Thomas: "Thomas was a player who probably would not be described as an elite athlete or great at any one thing but was a well-rounded player who was an effective runner for the Saints and a highly productive receiver out of the backfield. Like Thomas, McNichols is of a similar build and holds his own in strength and yards after contact."

2016 highlights:

• Boise State vs. Wyoming, Oct. 29

• Boise State vs. UNLV, Nov. 18

• • •

Stevie Tu'ikolovatu

1. Tu'ikolovatu turns 26 in June: At 25 years and 10 months, he is the oldest draft pick in team history. Only 40 Bucs have played in their first NFL game at age 26 or older. The last to do it was punter Jake Schum in 2015.

The Bucs' seventh-round pick was a walk-on at Utah in 2009, redshirted that season and then spent 2010 through 2012 in the Philippines on a Mormon mission. Seeking more playing time, he transferred to USC last season.

2. A few months ago, he was living in his 2004 Chevrolet Suburban: When Tu'ikolovatu moved to Southern California last summer, he wasn't enrolled yet at USC and therefore wasn't eligible to receive benefits from the school. A delay in the release of his transcript left him in housing limbo for about two months.

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He talked to Greg Auman recently about the experience. You can read that Q&A here.

3. He's a block-eating, lineman-pushing, run-stuffing machine. The 6-foot-1, 331-pound defensive tackle finished second in the nation last season in run-stop percentage, a Pro Football Focus statistic. Larry Ogunjobi, drafted by the Browns at the top of the third round, was first. (A defender is credited with a "run stop" for preventing a rusher from gaining 40 percent of the yards needed for another first down on first down, gaining 60 percent of the yards needed for a first down on second down and converting a third or fourth down to a first down.)

Top interior defender run-stop percentages, 2016

Player, collegeNFL teamRound (pick)Percentage
Larry Ogunjobi, CharlotteBrowns 3 (1)14.2
Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, USCBucs7 (5)12.6
Solomon Thomas, Stanford49ers1 (3)12.0
Jonathan Allen, AlabamaWashington1 (17)11.5
Caleb Brantley, FloridaBrowns6 (1)11.3
Source: Pro Football Focus

2016 highlights:

Contact Thomas Bassinger at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tometrics.