How About James Wilder, Jr.?February 23rd, 2014
No, the Bucs don’t really need a running back. If last year is evidence, the Bucs have a very deep running back situation. With Doug Martin, Mike James, Bobby Rainey and Erik Lorig, there isn’t much wiggle room for another guy.
Then again, when Joe had a chance to talk to Lovie Smith in the concourse of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine, while Lovie raved about the depth at running back, he also wanted a strong stable of guys to surround Martin.
Yes, he wants Martin to be that bellcow back, but Lovie also knows he can’t afford to run Martin into the ground.
Joe had a chance to spend a full 18 minutes with Florida State running back James Wilder, Jr. You may be familiar with that name. His dad was one of the best running backs in Bucs history. Wilder is still the franchise leader in yards rushing with 5,957.
His son, James, Jr., played for Plant High School in Tampa and Florida State. He clearly would love to spend this rest of his football days in the state of Florida. He told Joe and a few other scribes how much he thinks his versatility will be an advantage for his next team.
“Definitely, definitely, being able to run, run block, pass block and being great to be able to catch out of the backfield as well, it definitely helps me out,” said Wilder, who is 6-2, 230. “You have guys who maybe can’t block because of their size or guys who can’t catch. Me being versatile, being able to do all of them [skills], it definitely has given me an advantage.”
Wilder attribute his development into an NFL prospect, in part, to all the talent he practiced against at Florida State. The Seminoles had several defenders drafted last year, and expect to have several more drafted in May.
“We have a lot of great players, even from my freshman year, who were entering the draft from the defensive side of the ball,” Wilder said. “And [Florida State] coach [Jimbo] Fisher is the type of guy who likes to see people compete. He’s the guy who has us going ones-on-ones [first team offense vs. first team defense] all the time. So going against those guys definitely helped me out instead of just going against the scout teams or just going through the motions. Being able to compete against guys who are in the league now definitely gave me an edge.”
Now Joe isn’t about to suggest the Bucs are targeting Wilder. Joe is going to guess Wilder is a third-day draft pick. But if Lovie really wants to surround Martin with good running backs, why not a guy who can do everything, not just a one-dimensional player?