Why Doug Martin Is the Best Rookie Running Back in the NFL

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 04:  Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 4, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers struck gold when the front office decided to select running back Doug Martin with the No. 31 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft because Martin is far and away the best rookie running back in the NFL. 

Martin is the best rookie at his position, and he may just be the best offensive rookie in the entire NFL at the halfway point of the 2012 NFL season. 

The Boise State product isn't a surprise considering how highly touted he was going into the draft, but his exceptional production is shocking. 

So far Martin has carried the ball 154 times for 794 yards and seven touchdowns with an outstanding 5.2 yards per carry average. Add in the fact he has yet to fumble and it appears the Buccaneers have found a franchise back for its run-first offense. 

Martin drew comparisons to the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice going into the draft as head coach Greg Schiano oversaw Rice's collegiate career at Rutgers.

Now it appears as if Schiano has found his Rice at the NFL level, and Martin is playing eerily similar to the Ravens' star. 

Much of Martin's stellar professional numbers to date are courtesy of a Week 9 matchup against the Oakland Raiders in which he was absolutely dominant.

He carried the ball 25 times for 251 yards and four touchdowns with an astonishing 10 yards per carry average. 

His performance against Oakland enabled Martin to break several team records, including rushing yardage and touchdowns in a single game.

He's also the second player in NFL history to rush for over 250 yards and four scores. Martin was subsequently named the Offensive Rookie of the Month for October. 

For as great as Martin has been, he isn't the only rookie running back making waves in the NFL.

Trent Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick in last year's draft for the Cleveland Browns has been phenomenal thus far, as has the Washington Redskins' sixth round selection, Alfred Morris. 

The expectations for Richardson were through the roof, and he's delivered with 575 yards and five touchdowns for the struggling Browns.

Morris had little to no expectations but has exploded onto the scene with 793 yards and five touchdowns. 

While both Richardson and Morris have been great, neither have been able to match Martin's greatness for a variety of reasons. 

For one, Martin is averaging more yards per carry than both Richardson (3.8) and Morris (4.8) with a great 5.2 yards per attempt average. He's also scored two more touchdowns than both. 

Secondly, the Browns and Redskins have vastly superior offensive lines compared to the Buccaneers. According to ProFootballFocus, the Redskins have the No. 15 overall line, while the Browns have the No. 10 overall line. 

Conversely, the Buccaneers came in at No. 18 overall, and that's before the unit lost the best left guard in the league in Carl Nicks to a season ending injury.

Martin impressively recorded his historic performance against the Raiders without Nicks leading the way. 

Martin currently ranks No. 3 in the league in rushing, with Morris trailing him at No. 4 and Richardson rounding out the group at No. 13.

All have been exceptional in their own right and will be great for a long time, but Martin is the standout. 

Schiano selected Martin to be the next Ray Rice and all signs are pointing to the "Muscle Hampster" doing just that. 

Martin has easily been the best rookie running back in the NFL, and he's on his way to being the next superstar running back after only eight games with the Buccaneers.