The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft to help the running and receiving game. The running back was seen as a versatile back, someone who could help fill up the future void left behind by Doug Martin (suspended for the first three games) and Charles Sims (final year of his contract).
But so far, McNichols has disappointed. He wasn’t able to make any kind of positive impression in either training camp or the preseason, and Dirk Koetter even criticized him in his press conference today. According to the Bucs’ head coach, McNichols is just making too many mistake—which is why he pulled the back from last night’s game.
That’s harsh, but not entirely unexpected: rookie running backs often struggle in pass protection and with assignments. The NFL is a lot more complicated than college—that’s not necessarily a problem if you’re just running the football, but it is when you’re drafted as a versatile back.
McNichols’ issues do mean that the Bucs may lack depth at running back this year. With Doug Martin serving a three-game suspension and a history of inconsistent production, Jacquizz Rodgers okay-but-not-special, and Charles Sims only reliable as a third-down back, the Bucs are likely to struggle in the running game, placing even more of a burden on Jameis Winston to keep the offense going.