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May 4, 2014 @ 3:02 am
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PewterReport.com's 2014 RB Draft Preview + Bucs' Best Bets

Written by Eric
Eric Dellaratta


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How big of a need is running back for the Buccaneers? Who are the best backs in the class and which running back in the early or late rounds could end up in pewter and red? Find out in this 2014 running back draft preview.
Pewter Report continues its annual draft preview listing the top players at
each position and also offers up two Bucs' Best Bets, one in the early
rounds and one in the late rounds. See where Pewter Report ranks the
players and who they think makes the most sense for the Buccaneers. This time it's the running backs.

 The Buccaneers have a very deep stable of running backs at the current time. Third-year runner Doug Martin will be coming back from injury and has been called the starter by head coach Lovie Smith. Martin is poised for a productive season in Jeff Tedford’s offense. Tampa Bay also has promising second year running backs Bobby Rainey and Mike James returning in 2014. Both backs will battle for touches behind Martin. Also on the roster is the speedy Jeff Demps, who is committed to football and the Buccaneers this season. Third year back Michael Smith will have to fight an uphill battle to make Tampa Bay’s roster in 2014, after coming off injury where he tore a ligament in his foot.

With so much talent at the running back position already, Tampa Bay isn’t in a position where they have to select a running back early, or even at all. A lot of the backs on the roster offer similar skill sets, so if the Buccaneers choose to add a running back they might look for a bigger back with more power or speedy back that can work more on third downs.

BUCS BEST BET EARLY (1-3) – LSU RB Jeremy Hill
The Buccaneers running back stable is full of backs under 6-feet, the tallest being Mike James at 5-foot-10. Adding a running back with size and speed could potentially be in the y heading into the draft. Hill is an athletic freak with breakaway speed at 6-foot-1, 233 pounds, and could pack a punch that the Buccaneers offense might currently be missing. That being said, the chance that they select a running back on the first two days of the draft is highly unlikely. 

BUCS BEST BET LATE (4-7) – West Virginia RB Charles Sims
Sims has Matt Forte-like talent and could intrigue Lovie Smith and Jason Licht if he falls to the fifth round or later. Since the Buccaneers already have a dynamic workhorse in Doug Martin and two solid all-around backups in Mike James and Bobby Rainey, perhaps Tampa Bay might look for a back that can make an impact in the passing game. Arguably the best receiving running back in the entire class, Sims catches the ball extremely well and would be a threat on third downs. In addition to his receiving skills, he’s a slashing-type runner who has good vision and can make defenders miss in the open field. The Buccaneers had Charles Sims in for a visit at some point during the pre-draft process.

1. RB Carlos Hyde – Ohio State – Senior – 6-0, 230 – 4.58
Hyde is a powerful back that projects as a workhorse back at the NFL level. He moves piles and uses his great leg drive to power through defenders on a consistent basis. Hyde can also make plays in the open field with his agility and movement skills. While he isn’t a great receiver, Hyde is arguably the best pass-protecting running back in the class, showing great strength when picking up blitzes. He should be the first running back to come off of the board, likely in the second round.

2. RB Bishop Sankey – Washington – Junior – 5-9, 209 – 4.51  
Sankey is a complete back with excellent agility and showcases incredible change of direction skills. He isn’t incredibly fast but he makes up for that with his ability make defenders miss in the open field and create space for himself. The former Husky is a good blocker and can make an impact as a receiver out of the backfield. Sankey performed incredibly well last year, racking up 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns for the 2013 season.

3. RB Jeremy Hill – LSU – Junior – 6-0, 233 – 4.60  
Hill is a powerful runner that makes his money between the tackles. Showcasing excellent acceleration and fluidity, Hill makes the most of every opportunity and is very hard to tackle with just one defender. The LSU junior set the SEC record for yards per carry in 2013, averaging a staggering 6.9 yards per carry, on his way to 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns. He’s worthy of an early third round selection.

4. RB Charles Sims – West Virginia – Senior – 6-0, 214 – 4.45
Sims is a shifty and patient runner that will bring a complete game to the next level. Showcasing very good short area quickness, Sims is able to make defenders miss in the hole and at the second level. The West Virginia tailback is a terrific receiver that will be a weapon on third downs and in the passing game. While very talented, Sims still has some raw qualities to his game and will be a 24 year old rookie. The former Mountaineer is projected to go in the fourth round by most scouts but PewterReport.com believes he is worthy of a higher selection.

5. RB Tre Mason – Auburn – Junior – 5-8, 207 – 4.48
Mason is an explosive back that has a nasty edge to his game. Massive production was had by Mason, who totaled a school-record 1,816 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Auburn’s feature back wasn’t asked to do much third down work in 2013, so his ability to block and catch will be a cause for concern for NFL squads.  

6. RB Devonta Freeman – Florida State – Junior – 5-8, 206 – 4.52 
Freeman is arguably the best all-around back in the class, and wins with his great balance and quickness. He isn’t very strong in between the tackles, but if he sees daylight he will make the most of the opportunity. As Florida State’s featured back in 2013, Freeman ran for 1,016 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’d be an ideal fit for a team that employs a zone-blocking scheme.

7. RB KaDeem Carey – Arizona – Junior – 5-9, 207 – 4.69
Carey is a powerful interior runner that grinds out every last yard he can before going down. His North-South running style is complemented by his ability to make defenders miss in the hole by using a quick juke move. The reason Carey isn’t ranked higher is because he doesn’t have great speed, a trait that is vital for an NFL running back.

8. RB Lache Seastrunk – Baylor – Junior – 5-9, 201 – 4.47
Seastrunk is an athletic specimen that eludes tackles with his speed and quickness. His ability to accelerate and get to top speed quickly is tremendous, which allows to get through tight windows on the interior. The Oregon transfer doesn’t flash much power, so interior running at the next level could come hard for Seastrunk. The speedy Baylor back totaled 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013 as a junior.

9. RB Isaiah Crowell – Alabama State – Junior – 5-11, 224 – 4.54
Crowell is an incredibly talented back that has had some off-the-field issues in college. He was arrested on weapons charges while attending Georgia and later transferred to Alabama State. Crowell possesses a rare combination of size and speed at the running back position, and can punish defenders when he wants to. The immensely talented back ran for 1,121 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2013.

10. RB Andre Williams – Boston College – Senior – 5-11, 230 – 4.50  
Williams was ultra-productive for Boston College in 2013, breaking school records on his way to 2,177 rushing yards and 18 scores on 355 carries. He’s a bulldozing back that loves contact, but also has some wiggle to make a defender miss once and awhile. Williams doesn’t run with great pad level and isn’t very fast, but he could be a very productive back if given the chance to carry the load at the next level.  

RB Jerick McKinnon – Georgia Southern – Senior – 5-9, 209 – 4.38
McKinnon is a solid all-around back that timed extremely well in the 40-yard dash. He had a great Senior Bowl week, where he was solid in pass-protection and catching out of the backfield . McKinnon ran for 1,050 yards and 8 touchdowns as a senior.
RB Storm Johnson – Central Florida – Junior – 5-11, 209 – 4.57 
Johnson is a grinding back that was very productive for Central Florida in 2013, totaling 1,139 yards and 14 scores. Johnson is tough to bring down in the open field because of his feistiness and drive to get every last yard. He could be a nice late round value.

RB Terrance West – Towson – Junior – 5-9, 225 – 4.53
West created quite a buzz last season after a record-breaking season at Towson. He totaled a ridiculous 2,509 yards and 41 touchdowns during his junior campaign in 2013. West has great vision and makes the most of what is blocked for him. It would help if he fixed his upright running style.  

RB Tyler Gaffney – Stanford – Senior – 5-11, 220 – 4.50 
Gaffney is a grinding running back that clocked well in workouts. He won’t make defenders miss but he will overpower them. Gaffney racked up 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns for Stanford last season.

RB James White – Wisconsin – Senior – 5-9, 204 – 4.58 
White is one of the most underappreciated backs in the draft. He was overshadowed by Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon at Wisconsin, but he’s a great third down back that can catch and pass protect. He totaled 1,444 yards and 13 scores as a senior.

RB Branden Oliver – Buffalo – Senior – 5-7, 202 – 4.59
Oliver is a productive sleeper running back that showcases shiftiness and patience. He can grind in between the tackles in addition to making defenders miss. Oliver is a very good pass protector and can work the flats and middle of the field as a receiver. He finished senior season with 1,535 yards and 15 touchdowns.

RB Antonio Andrews – Western Kentucky – Senior – 5-10, 225 – 4.72
Andrews is a productive, complete running back with athletic limitations. He lacks speed and isn’t great in the open field. Andrews racked up 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior.

RB David Fluellen – Toledo – Senior – 5-11, 224 – 4.67
Fluellen is a solid runner with good patience, pad level, and takes what his offensive line gives him. He is not very fast or a dynamic runner.

RB LaDarius Perkins – Mississippi State – Senior – 5-7, 195 – 4.45
Perkins is an ideal rotational third down back because of his great initial burst and breakaway speed. He’s a very good blocker for his size and totaled 1,024 yards and 8 scores as a junior.

RB Roy Finch – Oklahoma – Senior – 5-6, 177 – 4.44
Finch will likely be an undrafted free agent. He’s a jitterbug with incredible short area quickness. Finch changes directions in a flash and has good speed but his extremely small stature will kill his draft stock. He could be an effective kick returner.

Last modified on Sunday, 04 May 2014 12:16

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  • avatar

    I think the only trade bait the Bucs might consider is trading Glennon for a 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th round pick. The other option is to try & trade down from 7th pick in first round...not easy to do. Like many other posters, I have complete confidence in the GM & coach to do their best to improve this team. @BECCAUSE: draft gurus Todd McShay & Mel Kyper have the Bucs drafting Mike Evans with the 7th pick. I'm still predicting the Bucs pick Aaron Donald DT if they stay at 7. According to the NFL Network, the Bucs ranked 31st last year in average number of yards per rush outside the tackles at 3.1 yards per rush.
  • avatar

    I understand your logic Horse in the sense that you have to give up something to get something in return. Be we can't afford to risk trying to replace one of our few highly regarded players. Me, I'd be more inclined to offer Vincent Jackson because of his age.
  • avatar

    Am huge BUCS fan up here in saratoga springs new york, has anyonr heard whispers of trading up to get watkins or mike evans, hard to get any BUC talk up here.. thanks, GO BUCS
  • avatar

    Like what Lovie has said '' solid players get you 4-12 ''. I think being fired for a 10-6 season has changed Lovies thinking that there is always room for improvement so very few players are safe on this team. I think if he sees a player that is better then the one he has or could improve the team by trade he is going to make that trade or cut that player. It's all about building the team they way he wants it as HIS neck is on the block. Being out of football has put that win now at all costs a top priority for him. That is good for him and the fans. The players now know that you need to produce or you will not be on this team. No more free rides !! Bowers and Stocker are two that could be trade bait not that you could get much if anything for Stocker but Bowers you could maybe steal a 5 or 6.
  • avatar

    KINDERRT, I agree. I doubt though any team would give up a draft pick for either one, but maybe a player swap for another underachiever player that they might be able to work in their schemes.
  • avatar

    scubog. BucWild02, once again you miss the point. Weeks ago I have used Martin and Clayborn as options IF we wanted to obtain more draft picks. These two players would hurt us the least if we traded them. Martin had a very good 2012 rookie season, but had started off slowly in his 2nd season before being injured. Clayborn had come off a season ending injury in 2012 and played adequately in 2013. He has a good motor, but it is doubtful he will be the starter at LDE. Why not trade both of these players and pick up other draft picks; that's all I am suggesting. It probably won't happen, so for your sanity I won't mention it anymore; unless it does happen. I like to think outside the box and scubog likes to be cute so we both are helping each other. I and others provide the material for his cuteness and scubog executes it. I call that team work.
  • avatar

    Horse: I knew when the RB Best Bets article came up you would offer up this option. Love ya man; but trading 1400+ yard, Pro Bowler Doug Martin and hoping a rookie, or Mike James (returning from ankle injury) or the oft-traveled Bobby Rainey can take his place is absolutely absurd. Where do you think Martin would rank in this years RB draft class? At the top! I know, you think Dougie is too small. But at 215, he's in the middle of the pack. I guess him being out most of last season made you forget just how good he is. There is no way # 22 gets traded unless someone offers a lot more than 2nd and a future 4th. You must not fare too well at swap meets.
  • avatar

    scubog. BucWild02, once again you miss the point. Weeks ago I have used Martin and Clayborn as options IF we wanted to obtain more draft picks. These two players would hurt us the least if we traded them. Martin had a very good 2012 rookie season, but had started off slowly in his 2nd season before being injured. Clayborn had come off a season ending injury in 2012 and played adequately in 2013. He has a good motor, but it is doubtful he will be the starter at LDE. Why not trade both of these plays and pick up other draft picks; that's all I am suggesting. It probably won't happen, so for your sanity I won't mention it anymore; unless it does happen. I like to think outside the box and scubog likes to be cute so we both are helping each other. I and others provide the material for his cuteness and scubog executes it. I call that team work.
  • avatar

    Horse : What do you suppose Martin's trade value is considering the league's declining value on the position? Teams may be very hesitant to trade a top 100 pick for a running back coming off of injury, even if the player is coming into his prime. Also, the last big trade of a running back for a top pick was Trent Richardson. It remains to be seen if Cleveland will capitalize on the first rounder they stole from Indianapolis at #26 overall in this years draft, but by all accounts...Trent Richardson is very close to being considered a bust. Keep Martin.
  • avatar

    Next subject...no movement at RB this year...
  • avatar

    Horse...Have no problem with trading Martin if Tedford believes that he likes another back in the mold of Lynch from Seattle. We have to trust Licht, Lovie and Tedford the first two years and then all bets are off. I myself like a big back with speed that can catch the ball out of the backfield like Pitman in the old days. Nothing wrong with change the first two years as we have been a team with no speed or toughness for the last five+ years. If L& L & T want another back and can get a second for Martin then go for it. I remember we had Caddy on the team and ALL DAY A. Peterson was on the board who I wanted to draft and we did not pick ( because we had Caddy ) and correct me if I'm wrong but I believe they picked G. Adams. What a HUGE mistake !!! What a great pick that would have been !!! The old adage of a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush does not always work. If they think the team would be better trading Martin then go for it. There will be MANY more years to blame these guys after two years but until then we HAVE TO believe in these guys.
  • avatar

    KINDERRT; I like Martin and he did produce as a rookie. He wasn't doing much this past season before he went on IR. I believe we are on the same track. We won many playoff games with big backs in the past. I agree about the two year thing, but if someone was will to offer us a 2nd rounder this draft and a 4th rd pick the next draft I am all in.
  • avatar

    Okay, I'm ready for the blast; trade Martin and pick up another RB for a lot less money and still not miss a beat in RB production.
  • avatar

    I think we are set at RB for the workhorse and third down back. The back we are missing is the bruiser. That does not seem to be a role that is prized in Tedford's offense, but he occasionally does use two back sets. A full back or H-back type could be a target. However, with pressing needs else where (WR, G, QB, DE, CB and TE) I think if we bring one to camp it will be as a free agent.
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