FAB 2. BUCS IN THE HUNT FOR HUNT
As you may have noticed, PewterReport.com has been extremely high on Toledo running back and 2017 NFL Draft prospect Kareem Hunt all offseason. I’ve written about him in previous SR’s Fab 5 columns, while Trevor Sikkema featured him in a previous Cover 3 column. Hunt was also projected as Tampa Bay’s third-round pick in PewterReport.com’s 2017 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft version 2.0.

Hunt rates as the 121st best player in the 2017 NFL Draft, according to CBSSports.com’s NFL Draft Scout, the ninth-best running back in this year’s crop and the top senior rusher. Hunt ranks as a third- or fourth-round pick with the likes of USF’s Marlon Mack, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine and Clemson’s Wayne Gallman.

It’s doubtful that Hunt will be one of the eye-openers at the NFL Scouting Combine and run such a blazing fast 40-yard dash time that it will catapult his draft stock into the second round. Expect a time in the 4.5-4.59-range for the Toledo star, and that’s fast enough to be a very good NFL running back.

Toledo RB Kareem Hunt – Photo by: Getty Images

Forty-yard dash times aren’t everything – ever for a running back. Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin ran a 4.55 coming out of Boise State and was drafted at the end of the first round. Jacquizz Rodgers ran a 4.52 and went undrafted.

If the Bucs don’t get the chance to draft Florida State’s Dalvin Cook or Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey early, Hunt would be a fantastic pick-up in the third round, which is where PewterReport.com has him in our latest mock draft.

Don’t take my word for it.

“I’m a huge Tampa Bay fan,” Hunt told me at the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl. “I just like the players there – Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, they’re just all good. I like the colors, too. They have sweet jerseys and all that. It’s just a nice environment and I’d like to be a part of that.”

Hunt grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and played at Toledo and has no allegiances to the state of Florida. He’s just one of several college football players that have latched on to the Bucs’ growing popularity with the arrival of Winston in 2015 and the emergence of Evans over the last three years.

Hunt told me he interviewed with Tampa Bay at the Senior Bowl. The team could very well circle back around and interview him again at the NFL Scouting Combine later this month.

“Yes, I have interviewed [with the Bucs], and it went real well,” Hunt said. “I interviewed with a scout so far and I think I have another interview hopefully coming up soon. The guys seem nice and I just like being around them.”

Hunt didn’t fumble the opportunity to impress the Bucs on his interview. The guy doesn’t fumble – ever.

Hunt had 856 carries at Toledo and fumbled once, but recovered his own loose ball. So he never had a turnover in four years in college, which is incredibly rare. Hunt is the only running back in this draft class that technically hasn’t lost a fumble.

According to NFLDraftScout.com, Hunt had the highest non-fumble rate of any running back in the draft, followed by Miami’s Joseph Yearby, who fumbles once in every 434 carries. Michigan’s De’Veon Smith (266.5) is next, followed by Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey (243.7) and Louisiana Lafayette’s Elijah McGuire (168). These running backs are considered “elite” non-fumblers, according to NFLDraftScout.com.

LSU’s Leonard Fournette is in the “below average” category at 82.1, which means he fumbles once for every 82 carries, but several other prominent rushers in this draft class are in the “red flag” category. Those players include, Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols (74.9), Texas’ D’Onta Foreman (74.3), Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon (73), Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara (71), Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel (69.8), Florida State’s Dalvin Cook (63.8) and USF’s Marlon Mack (54.3).

Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara – Photo by: Getty Images

Foreman had five fumbles last year and lost all five. Cook had six fumbles and lost four. Cook had eight lost fumbles in his Florida State career. Mack had three fumbles last year and five as a freshman. Kamara had five last year, McNichols and Mixon all fumbled five times last year.

Not only was Hunt extra careful with the ball at Toledo, he was incredibly productive. Although he has had an extra year’s worth of production as a senior than some of the junior running backs coming out, Hunt did split carries with two other backs for the Rockets, and still had 4,945 career rushing yards. That is more yards than that of Coastal Carolina’s De’Angelo Henderson (4,635 yards), Florida State’s Dalvin Cook (4,464 yards), Louisiana-Lafayette’s Elijah McGuire (4,312 yards), Wyoming’s Brian Hill (4,287 yards), Perine (4,122 yards), McCaffrey (3,922 yards), BYU’s Jamaal Williams (3,901 yards), Fournette (3,830 yards), Mack (3,609 yards), McNichols (3,205 yards), Foreman (2,782 yards) and Kamara (1,294 yards) entering the NFL Draft.

In fact, the only running back in this year’s draft class that has more rushing yards is San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey, who became the FBS all-time leading rusher this year with 6,450 yards.

Hunt had 44 touchdown runs at Toledo, and only Cook (46), Perine (49), Henderson (58) and Pumphrey (62) had more in their collegiate careers.

What’s not to like about a productive running back that can catch the ball, hang on to it and score touchdowns?

“I pride myself on being an every-down back,” Hunt said. “I don’t ever want to come off of the field – like ever. I want to be on the field at all times during the game. I don’t care if it’s one second left on the clock, I don’t care if it’s a Hail Mary, I want to be out there to make a play and somehow help my team to win.

Toledo RB Kareem Hunt – Photo by: Getty Images

“If you draft me you’re going to get a player who works hard and who cares and loves football that will do whatever it takes to be successful. Even if I don’t get paid I would still play football – that’s how much I love it. I’ve been doing it for free all my life. Football means so much to me, it’s like a part of me. I started playing when I was seven years old. I did some pretty amazing things at the age of seven, too – I have to say. I fell in love with the game and my mom used to record all the games when I was younger and I went back and watched them about two years ago. It was fun”

Hunt grew up watching Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, but feels his playing style is closer to that of Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell.

“Le’Veon Bell, he just sucks up the yards,” Hunt said. “He’s really smooth and I really like that. I try to get my patience and setting things up from him and all that stuff. David Johnson’s just a guy that does it all. He breaks a lot of tackles, he can catch the ball, he can run, he does it all and he’s a guy I really like. David Johnson’s a really great running back, too.”

It came as no surprise to me that Hunt was the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl Most Outstanding Offensive Player after leading the way with 118 yards in the game, including a tackle-breaking 47-yard dash.

“I’ve got great balance and a low center to the ground,” Hunt said. “I just know how to angle my body just a little bit to stay on my feet and get my legs churning, that’s the biggest thing. You’re going to break tackles if you keep your legs pumping and pretty much you have to be patient sometimes and be smart and just know what you’re up against.”

After ripping off nine runs of 40 yards or longer in the first three seasons of his Rockets career, including a 91-yard touchdown against Bowling Green in a 265-yard rushing effort as a sophomore, Hunt started his senior season slow without a run of 20 yards or more in the first six games. That taught him patience, and yet Toledo went 5-1 in those contests with Hunt having three 100-yard games.  

“It was a slow start for the breakout runs, but I just tried to take what they gave me,” Hunt said. “The defenses weren’t giving me a whole lot so I had take what the defense gave me. Don’t try to do too much because when you do too much you can end up either hurting yourself or making a bad play. Pretty much I just tried to focus on just doing what I could do and controlling what I could control.”

Toledo RB Kareem Hunt – Photo by: Getty Images

Running backs that press too much and try to get yards that aren’t there often fumble. Hunt certainly didn’t do that, and his patience paid off. He ended the season with five straight games of 100 yards or more, including a 200-yard effort against Western Michigan in the MAC Championship Game – a game in which he also had 73 yards receiving on three catches. Hunt had nine plays of 20 yards or more down the stretch, including a 47-yard run against the Broncos and a career-long 71-yard catch against Ball State.

With another 47-yard run and 100-yard game in the Senior Bowl, Hunt’s collegiate career ended in style.

“The Senior Bowl is just a great opportunity to get coached by great coaches and it means a lot just to learn an NFL playbook and see what you’re going to be up against,” Hunt said. “It’s a great head start and I’ve got to work on little details like technique and my pass [protection] game. I really have some abilities to do it all, but there are some technique issues I have to work on, such as being a little more patient out of the I-formation.”

Patience has paid off Hunt throughout his illustrious career at Toledo. If the Bucs patiently wait until the third round for a running back, Hunt could be quite the find.

1
2
3
4
5
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
Subscribe
Notify of
39 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
yuccaneers

Scott – I am guessing, the team has fully boughten into, Tyler Oberly, the team’s Manager of Analytics, Elitics Model, that uses his Player Efficiency Rating (PER) index to help determine a price point for each of the teams free agents based on, the following snippet from you Fab 5 column……. “This is typically done through statistical analysis of a player’s stats with his age, previous contract and overall value to the team (leadership, work ethic, locker room character, age, etc.) factored in.” – in essences, it gives the team a singular grade or point scale – which is then… Read more »

macabee

I get It, you get it! But we got some work to do at home with poppa Koetter. You know he’s the boss! lol.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2588754-dirk-koetter-says-he-doesnt-trust-buccaneers-analytics-department

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
JasonOfthetower

Been a fan of McCaffrey for a while now. He’s my draft crush. I’d love to see him in Pewter and Red, but I don’t know if they pull the trigger at 19.

Personally, I don’t think he makes it out of the first round.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Bucnut2

Totally agree

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
cgmaster27

Loving this RB centric Fab 5. I for one am in for cook if he falls to us of course, which would be a small miracle. It all depends on free agency at this point. I am not for trading up too far to get him either as we need picks. If he’s still there like two spots ahead of us, make a move and get him. As for McCaffrey, I’m not a big fan. I wouldn’t mind getting him if we traded back, but not at 19. He’s too small for my liking. He’ll end up going to New… Read more »

jongruden

CG- saying ” I want Cook” doesn’t surprise me since this would be 3rd yr in a row you wanted a Nole in the first round ha I will have to watch FSU Games next yr to see who you want for us in first round next yr, lol Mark Cook will have a whole article dedicated to this as well, I rather get wr Corey Davis who is a beast and is a do it all wr. or I can be on board with OJ Howard as well

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
cgmaster27

Jon good to see you take a break from the Arizona team site to pay us folk at pewter report a visit. Haha As for wanting Jalen Ramsey last year, look at any sites rankings and he was the best rookie DB taken last year. Look at Jameis’ rookie season, it speaks for itself. As for cook, there’s a reason he’s number one back in some boards ahead of Fournette. If he’s there at 19 it would be complete stupid not to take him. I’ve stated a couple times I would take Corey Davis all day if he’s there. But… Read more »

scubog

JonnyG: The FSU players we would like to see in red and pewter is because they are good, not because they wore garnet and gold. Maybe if you observed the aforementioned trio during their college careers you too would have trumpeted their virtues. There once was this little LB who some saw as a Safety. He was a “tweener”. Those of us fortunate enough to watch #10 play knew whichever position he was given he’d be a star. He settled at LB, was given #55 and was pretty good. Sometimes, even though you live in the desert, you come off… Read more »

jongruden

FSU Fans are bias to their fore mentioned players forget about the other rb’s like Fournette and McCaffery get FSU Back Cook. I have see countless articles written By FSU Fan Mark Cook for campaigning for his Nole Players in the past like that’s the only school in the country, just calling it like I see “You Can’t handle the truth”- A few good men So I’m a New Yorker now? Ha ok, whatever Scu very few so called fans on this web site or in Tampa know as much of the Bucs as I do and you know this.… Read more »

Bucnut2

SR another GREAT fab 5. thank you. I love MacCaffrey and would not be upset if we take him at 10 even though that might be a reach. The guy can flat out play. I like hunt as well and agree with your comment on Jones. Thanks again Scott.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Brandonges

I feel like McCaffrey is going to be overdrafted. He should be a nifty utility player, but I don’t see him as an NFL bell cow back (despite the number of college carries listed in the article). Unless Dalvin Cook or Fournette fall (they won’t), I don’t think there is a back worthy of taking at 19. I read an extended piece on Obi Melifonwu recently and this kid is intriguing. Incredible size/speed and good production. I think if Mike Williams and Corey Davis are off the board and an elite DE doesn’t fall, this guy should be the pick.… Read more »

surferdudes

With talent at R.B. deep in this draft, seems no doubt we will up grade an area of need. Why not McCaffery in the first, Hunt in the third? That would be a young cheep dynamic duo moving forward. You could even play them together, moving McCaff all over the field. Draft a good receiver in the second, and we got some fire power.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Naplesfan

I think the Bucs would be crazy to take any running back in the first round, the position simply doesn’t merit a first round pick. In this particular draft which is heavy on talent at several offensive positions, including running backs, I’d prefer to see the Bucs wait til Day 3 to take any RB. I know that PR writers and quite a few commenters here seem to be seriously intent on digging Martin’s grave, but I am still not convinced the Bucs are going to just cut him. His NFL career is not over til it’s over, he’s still… Read more »

thewbacca

I agree. Keep Martin at a fair contract based on incentive. I think McCaffrey is more at his ceiling than OJ Howard and Corey Davis, they have way more upside.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Naplesfan

By the way, I saw a report today on si.com by Alan Schechter that Roy Cummings was told by the Bucs they intend to hold on to Martin for the foreseeable future. They are not required to make any decisions on him until he completes the third suspended game of the 2017 season … they can void his contract at any point until then and he won’t count against the cap. So basically, they can have him practice and play in the pre-season, no matter whom they draft of pick up in free agency, wait and see who’s actually performing… Read more »

plopes808

That’s great news! I still hope we keep him and he makes a comeback though.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
scubog

That is exactly what I’ve said the Bucs will do with Doug Martin. No need to break up with your girlfriend until you’ve secured another date to the Prom.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
thewbacca

Scott you really make me wish Tampa would draft every player you feature on the Fab 5. I still think Corey Davis will be a gem in the NFL but will be unavailable when the Bucs pick. I think the best mix would be: OJ Howard, Budda Baker, and Kareem Hunt.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
plopes808

IF Cook is there at 19, I’d be for taking him. But I’m torn between that option and trading back, getting McCaffrey AND an extra pick. Lucky for us, the Cook option will likely be off the table by the time we pick. I could also see us grabbing a DE, but with the depth of this draft BPA seems like our best route either way. We have enough holes right now that just about any position we hit will fill a need. Licht will get us some good pieces again this year and push us closer to being consistent… Read more »

drdneast

I agree with you 100 percent about Martin, Naplesfan. I am so tired of the media and fans screaming for the team to cut a valuable resource every time a player does something worse than get a traffic ticket in public. Generally it is the same people who whine and cry about Buc management letting the player go and calling them stupid when the player returns to his All Pro level of a play less than a year later. Martin is doing all the right things to return to the Bucs including checking into a rehab facility. If ASJ had… Read more »

scubog

I don’t disagree with your point about retaining Doug Martin through Training Camp and then making an evaluation of him just like any other hopeful trying to make the roster. I know this much, a repeat of his poor 2016 season this August would be disastrous if Licht doesn’t have a viable replacement to be the lead back.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
kram0789

I don’t think RB is one of our top 3 needs on offense. WR, OL and TE in that order. WR is the obviouse no.1 need. OL is second because we have to protect Winston and we have to open holes for the RB’s. Last year our line was exposed as mediocre. Especially in our losses we were unable to run block and pass protect adequately. No matter how good the skill players are, if we can’t run block and pass protect the offense is going to be inconsistent at best. I think that describes the 2016 Bucs offense. Tight… Read more »

surferdudes

Don’t get the love for Druggie Martin. Even if they kept him, he wouldn’t be able to play until week four. Then he would need time to get into playing shape. This draft is loaded with young cheap legs, the Bucs will draft at least one back, resign Rodgers, and have Barber compete with at least one undrafted walk on. Guy’s like a lost love, let Martin go.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
chetthevette

Good Fab 5 as usual. Why do people think that a new running back will suddenly turn the running game into the juggernaut we fielded 2 years ago. What the difference was and still is one player. Logan Mankins. If Sweezy is as good of run blocker as advertised all our current players can gain big yardage. I can’t see McCaffery lasting more than a couple of years as the bell cow back. NFL linebackers and safeties will make mincemeat out of him. Our #1 pick should be a slam dunk, not some “I hope this works” pick. I’m now… Read more »

GoldsonAges

RB’s are a dime a dozen. I would draft 1 or even 2 and move on from the aging injury prone Martin and Sims. We need to get some young blood in here at rb

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
drdneast

You are spot on about the loss of Makin’s resulting in our porous offensive line last year. Surferdudes is the exact type of “fan” I was talking about. He will be the first to call Bucs management stupid if they cut him and he goes on to excel elsewhere. Don’t think for a minute Martin is going to take a huge pay cut from the Bucs in order to run behind an offensive line like last year. He has his pride. Would you take $3 million from the Bucs to run behind last years offensive line or $3 million to… Read more »

scubog

I agree with you that holding onto Doug Martin, albeit with some renegotiated contract terms through his three game suspension, is the smart thing to do. At that point it will be like the hotel commercial “Should he stay or should he go?” I don’t think there are many teams out there who would see Doug Martin’s 2.9 yds/carry, frequent injuries, unnamed drug use, hefty salary and be too eager to sign him in hopes that he can play like he did in 2015. He probably knows his best chance is here. When a guy off the street (Rodgers) who… Read more »

Glen Davies

Aloha from Big Island, Hawaii. A point that’s been bugging me for decades is this…so much of sports injuries are unavoidable. That is, dumb bad luck. It doesn’t get near the coverage that the player is/has become “unreliable” Jameis could be labeled that in any offensive play, @ any time (ask Bo Jackson or Joe Theisman). Bret Favre started > 210 consecutive games. Barry Sanders was the only Detroit offensive threat, yet Kiffin couldn’t stop him. Barry was smaller, as this column points out, and very talented, and lucky. As quarterback, all Jameis can do is rotate his shoulder when… Read more »