Bucs’ Best Bets: Running Back
Bucs’ Best Bet – Rounds 1-3: Memphis RB Darrell Henderson
The Bucs have more pressing needs than running back in this year’s draft, and likely won’t address the position before the third round. That means passing on likely second-round picks in Alabama’s Josh Jacobs as well as Penn State’s Miles Sanders, whom the team really likes. Henderson is right up there with Sanders, and it’s his 5-foot-8, 208-pound size that will cause him to slip to the third round where the Bucs might pounce. Henderson, a junior, is one of the most productive and explosive rushers in this year’s draft, rushing for 3,545 yards and 36 touchdowns in his three years at Memphis while averaging 8.2 yards per carry.
The Tigers star is like a faster version of Kareem Hunt and does a great job of slipping tackles for extra yardage. Henderson had a career-high 1,909 yards and 22 TDs last year with his 4.49 speed, while catching 22 passes for 295 yards (15.5 avg.) and three more scores. Henderson would be ideal in Bruce Arians’ offense as he has tremendous hands. He posted 63 career receptions for 758 yards (12 avg.) and eight TDs at Memphis. With Peyton Barber’s contract up after this year and Ronald Jones possibly being a bust, Tampa Bay needs a long-term playmaker at the running back spot and Henderson could be a star at the NFL level.
Bucs’ Best Bet – Rounds 4-7: Memphis RB Tony Pollard
If the Bucs don’t get Henderson in the third round, don’t be surprised if Tampa Bay targets Pollard, his Tigers teammate, on Day 3. Pollard is slightly bigger at 6-foot, 210 pounds, and faster, evidenced by his 4.37 time in the 40-yard dash at his pro day, which the Bucs attended. Pollard was used as a runner, receiver and return specialist at Memphis. He rushed for 941 yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 6.8 yards per carry over his career. Pollard not only caught passes out of the backfield, he also lined up in the slot and ran routes while totaling 104 catches for 1,292 yards (12.4 avg.) and nine TDs.
Last year, he totaled 1,010 yards from scrimmage and scored nine TDs before shining in the Senior Bowl where he scored a touchdown. Pollard is one of the best kick returners in college football history, setting the FBS record with seven touchdowns, including four as a junior, while averaging 30.1 yards per return. Pollard’s speed, versatility on offense and kick return ability would be quite useful in Tampa Bay as a fourth- or fifth-round pick.