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Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Bucs NFL draft position analysis: Running back

The Buccaneers have six selections, including the No. 7 overall pick, in the 2014 NFL draft, to be held Thursday-Saturday at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Tampa Bay has one pick in each of the seven rounds, except the fourth — that pick was sent to the New York Jets to complete the 2013 trade for CB Darrelle Revis. For eight consecutive days, The Tribune will analyze the team’s needs at specific positions.

Running back

If there’s one position the Bucs can afford to ignore, this is it. Tampa Bay has a Pro Bowl-caliber starter in Doug Martin and two promising, yet already productive, backups in Mike James and Bobby Rainey. Coach Lovie Smith is also finding innovative ways to use Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps’ speed, so the Bucs are just about set here. One thing they might need is a young fullback to push Lonnie Pryor and Jorvorskie Lane, but with only six picks it’s hard to imagine the Bucs spending a selection on that.

On the Bucs roster

NFL Player Ht. Wt. Age seasons

Jeff Demps 5-7 175 24 1

Mike James 5-10 223 23 1

Doug Martin 5-9 223 25 2

Lonnie Pryor 6-0 229 24 1

Bobby Rainey 5-8 212 26 2

Michael Smith 5-9 205 25 1

Jorvorksie Lane 5-11 258 27 1

Remaining NFL free agents

Michael Bush 6-1 245 29 7

Tashard Choice 5-10 210 29 6

Felix Jones 5-10 215 26 6

Dream pick

Tre’ Mason, Auburn

This 5-foot-9, 207-pounder is a decisive one-cut runner with a powerful build and the ability to return kicks and punts. He’s a patient runner who knows how to follow blocks and make defenders miss. He does a good job protecting his body, so he should last a while in the league, even at his size. Mason has drawn comparisons to Ray Rice but lacks the second-gear speed to be a breakaway runner.

Hidden gem

D.J. Adams, Portland State

Adams played at little known Portland State and receiving little attention, he earned a third-team All-America nod after running for 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior. At 5-10, 210 pounds, Adams has good size, but his 4.6-second 40-yard dash time is nothing special. As a late-round flyer or priority free agent, he could prove to be a find as he always seems to excel when the ball is in his hands.

Bucs history

Until they drafted Martin three years ago, 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 never worked out as they hoped. Tampa Bay definitely hit the bull’s eye in 1996 when it drafted Mike Alstott in the second round and again in 1997 with Warrick Dunn in the first.

The schedule

Wednesday: Quarterback

Thursday: Defensive back

Friday: Offensive line

Saturday: Defensive end

Sunday: Wide receiver

Monday: Defensive tackle

Today: Running back

Wednesday: Linebacker Thursday: Tight end

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