A number of options were available to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 19th overall pick in the NFL draft. Most notably, star Florida State running back Dalvin Cook was still on the board. However, the Bucs elected not to take the electric rusher, largely because of how running back Doug Martin has looked this offseason, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports.
In the short period of time in which offseason workouts have been administered, Martin has been “the most impressive player thus far” for the Buccaneers, a source informed Rapoport.
Many were predicting an end to Martin’s five-year tenure with the team after he was handed a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy and required a stint in rehab. The looming ban was thought to be the source of his on-field troubles as he posted a disappointing 2.9 yards per carry in the eight games he played in 2016.
Cook represented an obvious fit for Tampa Bay. Had he been selected, he would have rejoined his college teammate Jameis Winston in the Buccaneers’ backfield and provided the running game a threat it hasn’t had from the position in decades.
Due to Martin’s work in April workouts giving the team second thoughts, the Bucs instead went with Alabama tight end O.J. Howard as the 19th overall pick.
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