This kid is good. He's really good, and we already knew that before he went off for 251 yards and four touchdowns against the Raiders on Sunday evening. He averaged 10 yards per carry, broke a 70-yard score in the fourth quarter and even managed to catch four passes from Josh Freeman.
He can do it all, resembling Baltimore's Ray Rice more and more every game. This is why Tampa Bay moved up to secure his talents with the 31st pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. You can't anticipate games like his performance against the Raiders, but the potential was there.
Entering Week 9, Martin had 543 yards and three touchdowns. He only has one other 100-yard game on the year, but he's also rushed for less than 50 yards once, and that was against the Redskins' daunting run defense. He also had 16 catches for 224 yards and one touchdown.
Martin has it all. He's not the fastest player in the world, but he's quick enough to break off a huge run. He's not as big as Adrian Peterson, but his 5'9'', 215-pound frame gives him the low center of gravity necessary to shed tacklers in the open field. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield and pick up blitzers as an extra blocker, making him a candidate to be the all-too-rare three-down back in today's NFL.
On top of that, he's mature. At 23 years old, he doesn't have a steep learning curve, and he gains a firmer grasp of Tampa Bay's offense as each week passes.
Martin is exactly what a young, rising team needs. He can carry the ball 20-plus times (something that he's done four times this year), clear 100 yards on the ground and maintain himself as a threat in the passing game. There's no situation that he isn't useful in, including goal line runs.
I don't know if I would go as far as Skip Bayless yet:
Remember 10 days ago when I said that, right now, I'd take Doug Martin over Adrian Peterson? Anyone notice what Doug Martin's doing today?— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) November 5, 2012
But, Martin has that kind of potential. If he stays healthy, he's the next ball-carrier to join the elite ranks. Guys like Rice, Peterson, LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster don't grow on trees, but the Buccaneers found themselves a keeper at an incredible draft value.
Martin is only getting better, and that's bad news for the rest of the league. Watching him develop over the second half of the NFL season is going to be fun, but watching him explode in his second NFL season is going to be downright scary.