Spann the man?

With the Buccaneers' depleted running back corps there are probably many fans wondering about recent acquisition Chad Spann. Spann was signed by GM Mark Dominik after the injury to Legarrette Blount a couple of weeks ago. He is an undrafted rookie out of Northern Illinois University.

Spann is a shorter back. He is listed as 5'8" but may even be a little shorter. His weight seems to hover around 200 pounds. He was an absolute touchdown machine at Northern Illinois his junior and senior seasons. In 2009 he crossed the goal line 19 times whilst averaging a hefty 5.8 yards per carry. His play further improved in 2010, a year in which he was the Mid Atlantic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Spann led the nation in rushing touchdowns and reached the end zone an impressive 22 times while still averaging a respectable 5.4 yards per carry ratio.

Despite this success, Spann wasn't even invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and wasn't generally ranked in the top 25 running back prospects of the 2010 class. Everything I have read seems to point towards him being a small but powerful back with decent speed. He seems to remind quite a few people of another product of Northern Illinois, Atlanta's Michael Turner. I also read a few reports that seemed to refer to him as a less dynamic Darren Sproles. As far as I can tell, the only thing Spann has in common with Sproles is his diminuitive height. He runs low to the ground with power and lacks explosive speed. While he ran a respectable 4.52 at his pro day, Spann doesn't have the elite speed to consistently beat NFL defenders like Sproles does.

After Spann went undrafted he was signed by his hometown team, the Indianapolis Colts. Spann spent the preseason with them before being placed on injured reserve. It seems like the move was more to make room for another player, rather than a significant injury. He reached an injury settlement with the Colts and was consequently waived. He waited patiently for another chance and eventually received the call from Mark Dominik. Let's hope he can make the most of his second opportunity. With Kregg Lumpkin playing mediocre football and Earnest Graham most likely done for the rest of the year, the chance is there for the taking.

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