Without Cadillac Williams, who will be the Bucs' third-down back?

The Bucs let Cadillac Williams walk, and seem extremely committed to the youth movement now. Cadillac was the Bucs' go-to guy on passing downs last year, helping protect Josh Freeman and catching 46 passes for 355 yards. Two days ago, I wrote that Cadillac was the Bucs' best option as a third-down back. But that ship has sailed, and it's time to move on and take a real look at the other options. 

First, there's Legarrette Blount. He is expected to be the Bucs' main running back, and is clearly the Bucs' most dangerous running back with the ball in his hands. Last year he really struggled finding his assignments in pass protection, and with this shortened offseason it seems unlikely that he will have fixed that. In addition, he did not look good as a receiver when given the chance last season. Unless Blount shows some miraculous and very unilkely improvement in both areas, we can count him out as an option on third downs. 

Earnest Graham is the next option. Graham has plenty of experience as a third-down back, catching 103 balls over his career. He also knows the pass-protection responsibilities, and has shown the ability to be a good blocker. My main concern with Graham is that he looked sluggish as a pass-catcher last season, although that may have something to do with injuries. Graham is also 31 already, and that is usually the end-of-career mark for NFL running backs. Still, he's a reliable pass-blocker if nothing else, and should still have something left as a receiver. He's a solid option, but doesn't offer much upside. 

Kregg Lumpkin may be the most likely player to take over the third-down role. Lumpkin never had the opportunity to really showcase his skills in Green Bay due to repeated injuries, but looking up information on his time in Green Bay two words keep jumping out at me: soft hands. Apparently, Lumpkin is a very good pass-catcher, which would certainly give him a leg up. In addition, he has been in the league for 3 years now, learning the responsibilities of a pass-blocker in Green Bay, and he has the size to hold up in pass-protection. If he can show the team that he knows his responsibilities as a pass-blocker, Lumpkin could quickly make it on to the field on passing downs. 

Finally, the Bucs have one more back in training camp with a lot of experience catching passes: Armando Allen, Jr. He caught 119 balls throughout his career at Notre Dame for a total of 833 yards and 3 touchdowns. Clearly he has the experience to be a good pass-catcher, the only question mark is whether he can be a decent pass-blocker. Allen has a tiny shot at staying on the roster in a third-down role, but we can't count him out. 

Overall, Lumpkin or Graham are likely to take over as third-down back for Cadillac Williams, with Graham being the more secure option, while Lumpkin has more upside. Pay attention to the third-down back in preseason games, because the players' performance in those situation will determine who will get the first shot. 

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