The Buccaneers have eight selections in the NFL draft, including the No. 13 overall pick. The draft, to be held April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, features seven rounds and 254 total picks, including a handful of compensatory picks. The Bucs have two choices in the fourth and sixth rounds, but do not have a seventh-round selection. For eight consecutive days, the Tampa Tribune will analyze the team's needs at each of eight positions.
Today, we look at running back.
When the Bucs traded back into the first round last year to select Doug Martin of Boise State at No. 31, they solved their need for a legitimate game-breaking running back for what they expect will be years to come. Though it took him a few weeks to get rolling, Martin became a Pro Bowl back, falling just 74 yards shy of joining Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as the only rookie running backs to produce 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Speedster Michael Smith, a late-round selection in 2012, and free agent Brian Leonard give the Bucs plenty of depth, enough that they can continue to entertain trade offers for backup LeGarrette Blount. The situation at fullback is a little leaner, though Tampa Bay believes it has a solid starter in Erik Lorig and a possible emergency backup in Leonard.
On the Bucs roster Pos. Player Ht. Wt. Age NFL seasons RB LeGarrette Blount 6-0 247 26 3 RB Brian Leonard 6-1 225 29 6 FB Erik Lorig 6-4 275 26 3 RB Doug Martin 5-9 223 24 1 RB Michael Smith 5-9 205 24 1
Remaining NFL free agents Pos. Player Ht. Wt. Age NFL seasons RB Ahmad Bradshaw 5-10 214 27 6 RB Michael Turner 5-10 247 31 9 FB Corey McIntyre 6-0 245 34 8
Dream pick Eddie Lacy, Alabama At 5-foot-11, 231 pounds and with the ability to run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, Lacy has the best blend of size and speed of any back in this year's draft class. He also has that winning Alabama pedigree going for him. There's a good chance he will fall to the second round, though, because he started for the Tide for only a year, has technique issues to clean up and might not have the best work habits. Lacy would be a good fit for a team with an established offensive line, such as the Bucs.
Hidden gem Zach Line, Southern Methodist
The Bucs have an abundance of running backs, but they are a little thin at fullback. So, they might have some interest in Line late in the draft. The SMU back doesn't quite have the makeup of a three- or even two-down running back, but his ability to catch the ball and power his way through the line makes him an intriguing fullback prospect. Line is not an exceptional athlete, but he works hard and has the makeup necessary to develop into a solid run-pass option. He could be a steal in Rounds 4-7 on Day 3 of the draft.
Bucs history Until last year, the Bucs had not had a great deal of success drafting running backs. They literally wasted a first-round pick on Bo Jackson in 1986, and their selection of Cadillac Williams in the first round in 2005 didn't work out as hoped, largely because of injuries. The Bucs definitely hit the bull's-eye when they drafted Mike Alstott in the second round in 1996 and Warrick Dunn in the first round in 1997. Since then, Tampa Bay has drafted 10 running backs, and the only ones still with the team are the two they got last year, Martin and Smith.
Wednesday: Quarterback Thursday: Offensive line Friday: Linebacker Saturday: Running back Sunday: Defensive end Monday: Receiver/TE Tuesday: Def. tackle Wednesday: Def. back