The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a pretty iffy group of running backs, but the backs they do have are pretty good at one thing: catching the football. In looking at first-down conversions after the catch, Pro Football Focus named Bobby Rainey one of the most efficient backs in the NFL.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bobby Rainey converted 14 of his 33 opportunities into first downs, which ranked fourth in the NFL. That's a fairly small sample, of course, but it fits the film and the production: 33 catches for 315 yards and a touchdown is pretty good for a running back, especially one who started just five games. All of that is doubly impressive because the Buccaneers were the single worst team overall in getting first downs after the catch -- likely a result of the heavy downfield focus of the passing game.
Based on those statistics, one would expect the Bucs to give Rainey another shot as the third-down back this year., However, the Bucs clearly preferred Charles Sims in that role last year, as Rainey only saw the field as a special teams player over the final few weeks of the year. And that wasn't entirely unreasonable. As much as Sims struggled as a runner, he managed 19 catches for 190 yards in just eight games and no starts -- that's a little better than Rainey's production, adjusted for playing time.
I'm still curious to see where Rainey will land in the hierarchy this year. He was the team's main running back for much of last season, but lost out to both Doug Martin and Sims at the end of the year, even though he was more productive than either player. Will that convince the Bucs (and Dirk Koetter) to give him more carries, or is he going to be on the back burner for the season again?