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2017 NFL Draft Rumors: Buccaneers want a running back in the first round

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Replacing Doug Martins seems to be a priority for the Bucs.

NCAA Football: Orange Bowl-Michigan vs Florida State Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to draft a running back in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. That’s what Anthony “Booger” McFarland told Justin Pawlowski of JoeBucsFan yesterday. McFarland is a former Bucs defensive tackle, Super Bowl champion and long-time radio personality, so he at least has some connections.

Here’s what Booger MacFarland said, via JoeBucsFan.

“Here is what I do know, I know the Bucs are really sold on taking a running back in the first round. Especially with what is going on with Doug Martin. He’s had his issues and I think the Bucs are kind of at a point right now where Charles Sims is going to be a change-of-pace guy. They need a guy who can tote the mill and give them 15 to 18 carries [a game] and can also be a home run hitter

This wouldn’t be overly surprising, given the Bucs’ uncertainty with regard to Doug Martin, and their desire to have a strong running game. A first-round back would solve the problem of what to do with Martin (get rid of him), and would give them a hopefully reliable down-to-down back to complement Sims.

I would add a few rather significant caveats, though. First: the Bucs have a habit of disseminating some deceptive rumors in the weeks leading up to the draft. That’s what they did with their purported interest in Johnny Manziel in 2014 (they took Mike Evans), and last year was a messy tapestry of rumors in every direction.

Even in 2015, when everyone and their grandmas knew they’d take Jameis Winston, they kept the Marcus Mariota and trade-down rumor alive all the way up until the last minute.

Another caveat: Dirk Koetter doesn’t really seem to believe in a bell-cow back. Yes, he wants someone who can take around 60-70% of the carries, but that has always happened in a timeshare under his watch. Charles Sims is certainly a change-of-pace guy, but committees are the rule and not the exception in the NFL and under Koetter.

All of that said, I wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever if the Bucs took a Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey in the first round. I still expect them to take a higher-impact player in the first round, and go for a running back in the second or third, though. We’ll see what happens in a couple of weeks.