Doug Martin has overtaken LeGarrette Blount as the No. 1 running back for the Tampa Bay Bucccaneers, and he's going to have a phenomenal rookie season.
Blount was simply outperformed, according to Greg Schiano, via Tampa Bay Times' Stephen Holder:
He’s [Blount] disappointed, but he’s been great. He’s about this team. He’s about winning. At the very beginning I sat them both down and told them what the deal was. They knew it. I think – when you watch the tape, and LeGarrette’s a smart guy – when he watches the tape, he sees that he got outperformed.
It's not like Blount was a terrible option to begin with. He rushed for 1,788 yards on 385 carries the past two years, scoring 11 touchdowns in the process. Blount's biggest problem lies in his penchant for turning the ball over.
So, what does Martin bring to the table? Let's find out.
Nose for the Endzone
Martin is a touchdown-making machine. In his 586 career carries at Boise State, he ran for 43 touchdowns—an average of 13.6 carries per touchdown (h/t CBSSports.com).
As a contrast, Blount has carried the ball 385 times for 11 touchdowns in his tenure with the Bucs—an average of 35 carries per touchdown (h/t NFL.com).
I don't expect Martin to be able to match his gaudy college stats against the defenses of NFL teams, but I could be wrong. Through three preseason games, he's run the ball 27 times for 97 yards with two touchdowns for an average of 13.5 carries per touchdown—the same as his college average (h/t NFL.com).
At the least, he'll be much better than Blount in this department.
At best, he might lead the league in rushing touchdowns. Greg Schiano wants to pound the ball in the red zone, according to the Tampa Bay Times' Holder, so we may see Martin have phenomenal scoring numbers in his rookie year.
Power Plus Speed
Martin isn't a burner. He ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash at the NFL draft combine, which isn't going to be fast enough to outrun most defenders in the secondary.
That doesn't mean Martin will necessarily get brought down, though. He possesses excellent power, which, when combined with his adequate speed, makes life difficult for opposing defenders. He's 5' 9" and weighs 223 pounds, and all of it is muscle.
Watching him run in college was like watching a bowling ball knock over pins. His nickname is "Muscle Hamster" because of his incredible strength and because he has chubby cheeks (h/t FoxSports.com).
Martin isn't elegant. He isn't pretty to watch. Not unless you just appreciate good, old-fashioned bowl-em-over football...which I do.
Duel Threat, Three-Down Back
One of the problems with Blount as the No. 1 running back is that he's one-dimensional. In 27 career games, he has only caught 20 passes.
Martin is a natural pass-catcher out of the backfield. He's already shown a bit of what he's capable of in the preseason in this department, but he'll become much more involved in the passing game once the regular season gets going.
During his time at Boise State, Martin caught 64 passes for 689 yards and four touchdowns in 50 career games. He wasn't the starter until the 2010-11 season, either, and most of his production came in his last two years.
Martin can be counted on to produce on all three downs. He's also a decent pass-blocker when asked to do so, and as a result, he's much more suited to be the team's No. 1 running back going forward.
Vision and Patience
One of the most important attributes an NFL running back needs to succeed is vision. That's what makes Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers so dangerous, and Martin has the same kind of feel for where he's going on the field.
Part of having good vision is patience, and Martin is a patient runner. He waits for holes to develop and then pops through with a surprising burst for a man of his size.
Martin reminds me of a combination between Gore and Ray Rice, and if their careers are any indication, he's going to find success at the next level.
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