McNichols’ Bad Luck Is Bucs’ Fortune

June 12th, 2017

“I can run, coach.” (Photo courtesy of

It sucks for a player to get injured, but it seems in this case, it means the Bucs may have won the lottery.

That’s the suggestion from Charlie Campbell of The noted draft guru runs a series in which he explores why highly-touted players plummeted in the draft. Campbell recently took a gander at the free fall of Bucs rookie running back Jeremy McNichols.

The 2017 NFL Draft was known to be strong at the running back position, and one of the players that was well-regarded in the scouting community was Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols. Boise State has developed a reputation as ‘running back U’ with a steady stream of quality backfield talents for the next level. McNichols had an impressive final season, averaging 5.4 yards per carry for 1,709 yards with 23 touchdowns. He also notched 37 receptions for 474 yards with four touchdowns. Many thought McNichols would end up getting selected on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft, but he ended up slipping to the fifth round.

Sources say there were two factors that led to McNichols sliding lower than expected. One, he has a shoulder injury that worried some teams. Staffers with Tampa Bay say they are projecting him to be ready by training camp, so the short term isn’t scary. This was a deep running back draft, however, so McNichols got pushed down some by the abundance of talent at the position and other comparably graded backs not having a medical red flag.

Yeah, Joe can see how a shoulder injury would spook NFL suits. Still, lasting until the fifth round seems extreme, almost like there is something no one but NFL teams know about.

If McNichols can be ready for training camp and he picks up the playbook quickly, then two running backs better be worried.

The first, of course, is Charles Sims. The way the Bucs talk about McNichols, it sounds like he is a second-coming of Sims except McNichols can block and possibly run. Sims, in the final year of his contract, is an injury-prone one-trick pony. He can catch the ball (very well, Joe might add) but little else. That is, when he can get on the field.

And if McNichols runs effectively in training camp and early in the season (if he gets a shot), the other running back sweating would be Doug Martin.

33 Responses to “McNichols’ Bad Luck Is Bucs’ Fortune”

  1. Casual Observer Says:

    My guess is that they’ll keep 4 RBs. Sims will be gone.

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    @Campbell … “Sources say there were two factors that led to McNichols sliding lower than expected.” Got that the first (“One …) factor in his sliding down was McNichols bum shoulder. Still can’t find the second factor in there. Does he have an artificial hip or something? Can’t say ‘One’ without saying ‘Two’.

  3. Andrew Says:

    ^^no way they cut sims when he has a cheap contract and is in a contract year where teams tend to get top performance. HE HAS big ability when in the right role. AND 3rd year in the offense.

  4. ndog Says:

    What could be interesting is if we decide to open up the offense and play with one back more often. We could easily see an offense that features Evans, J-Jax, Brate and OJ with McNichols in the backfield. He actually has the perfect skill set for that type of attack. Cause then we are in run OR pass formations where he can catch it, run it, or stay in a block and the other weapons can do their thing. If he is healthy that would be my plan and we can from time to time work in Godwin and give it a changeup with a 3 wide out 1 TE look. Man this could be fun as, much like the hated Patriots, we are gathering players that have many skills and are not going to tip our hand in one direction or the other. Think about it Evans can catch and block, Godwin can catch and block, Brate can catch and block, OJ can catch and block, McNichols can catch, block and run (hopefully on that last one). This means when lining up the defense has to guess more often, thus they can attack our weaknesses less often. This is how you win football games in this century folks.

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    I hate that we’re talking “ifs” with rookie players that haven’t even seen the field yet. Given, he’s a 5th rd pick, but we’re starting with him nursing an injury.
    He has 2 hurdles ahead of him; 1st he has to get healthy, 2nd he has to make the team.

  6. BucEmUp Says:

    Martin isnt going anywhere….licht will let hit redeem himself and at worst he gets traded next offseason for a 4th or 5th rounder

  7. tnew Says:

    McNichols makes the team unless he does an ASJ type of event. Or there is an addiction issue that is unknown to team. I would wager that baring injury, a Boise State running back leads the team in percentage of snaps by the end of the season.

    Defense.. agree it was stated confusing but I think #2 was the overall depth at the running back position.

  8. Guzzie Says:

    Jmac probably will be brought along slowly, he’ll definitely make the team, unless he just blows up, expect low production his first year

  9. Bucsfanman Says:

    @tnew- You may be right about making the team, but if we get the 2015 Martin, a healthy Sims and Quizz, he’ll have a heck of a time cracking the line-up IMO. That’s why I think it’s an uphill battle for him. He still has to get healthy AND learn the playbook AND compete for playing time.

  10. Buccfan37 Says:

    If Sims can get past his stutter stepping year he just might return to the flashes of better than decent play he has shown earlier. Potential weapons breaking out all over.

  11. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    Devonta Freeman was selected in the 4th round. Does he look like a 4th round pick?

    Kwon? Plenty of others. Truth is once you get past the 2nd and certainly the 3rd round the top players may be harder to find but there are some hidden in there.

    We don’t no about McNichols yet…but we can claim just as many reasons to be optimistic as fearful. Time will tell.

  12. Maze Says:

    Hopefully Jeremy is the real deal and possibly make a solid backup for Doug this season


    lOTS OF “IFS” but also lots of potential…..I was led to believe Doug Martin was leaving…….but if he stays & returns healthy & at his previous level of performance, we are in a GREAT POSITION, OFFENSIVELY! Sims is a good change of pace runner….can dodge tackles….and improvement at all in our running game will absolutely light up our passing game…..Can’t wait to see the Bucs in action.

  14. BurgDweller Says:

    Sims has been a one trick pony thus far. He can’t run between the tackles worth a darn.

  15. 813bucboi Says:

    @casual….I agree….sims has 2 choices….learn to hit the hole and run between the tackles…or…play slot wr, punt and kick off return…..GO BUCS!!!!

  16. martinii Says:

    IMO just can’t help but think with all the weapons that Jameis has that RB will be less emphasized. Blocking, short yardage power, and good hands will win the position. It feels like we are going to be a pass first offense and less dependent on the long run or breakaway capability from our backs. Nice to have but less demanding than past seasons.

  17. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Casual Observer Says
    “My guess is that they’ll keep 4 RBs. Sims will be gone.”

    I think they pretty much always keep 4 RBs. This year, for the first 3 games, they might even keep 5 because of Martin’s suspension.

    I think Joe is wrong about Sims (this year). I think Barber is the odd man out.

  18. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    ndog Says
    “What could be interesting is if we decide to open up the offense and play with one back more often. We could easily see an offense that features Evans, J-Jax, Brate and OJ with McNichols in the backfield. He actually has the perfect skill set for that type of attack.”

    I don’t think we’ll see that this year. Not with him coming off an injury. I suspect they will go easy on him to start the year off. but that would be interesting.

    What would more interesting is if they had a good hard hitting, short yardage, run blocking fullback to compliment him…much like Alstott did for Dunn.

  19. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    martinii, I think you are right. Except for when RBs catch passes. I think we’ll see a lot of that.

    More than likely though, the RBs will be pass blocking a lot.

  20. R.O. Says:

    Chuck Sims is not going anywhere this year. 4 RBs for the 1st 3 weeks. Will keep an extra LB, TE, or keep a FB on the roster until they need to make a choice on DM. If an Injury then DM is back if not will need to make a choice. Its funny how local pundits think the 50th-53rd player on the roster will be more valuable to keep then DM on a restructured deal.

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    Bonzai, Bucs coaches seem to be pretty high on Barber, and Sims is in his last year of contract. He’s done great catching passes (73% receiving), but he just hasn’t shown much of anything rushing. Barber appears to be capable of doing both (he did catch 5 out of 6 last season … wow). Not sure how good either is at pass protection, but at this point I’d think that Barber has the edge between the two in terms of retention.

  22. FutureBucsGM Says:

    Smart move on Licht ‘s part. We needed a decent 3rd down back for sure, He’s in direct competition with Chuck Sims for 3DRB. If I were the Bucs I would split the game between them. Martin typically fades after the 1st half. That would enable a heavy dose of runs. Play-action would be lethal.

  23. Brandon Says:

    Martin will NOT count against the roster number for the first 3 games of the season. The Bucs will likely start the season with four RBs: Rodgers. Sims, McNichols, Barber… when Martin is eligible to return then they have a decision to make. If the four RBs are playing well, Martin is cut. If one of the four isn’t playing well, that player is cut (Sims or Barber most likely). The most likely scenario is that when Martin’s three game suspension is up, somebody (probably Sims) will be hurt and simply take his place on the roster.

  24. LakeLandBuc Says:

    Jeremy McNichols is a starting RB in the NFL, maybe not for the Bucs and their pathetic O-Line. But he can run, catch and block, those are the abilities that you look for in a starting RB.

  25. Maze Says:

    Nope 5 running backs until Martin returns I’d say

  26. webster Says:

    I dont know why the joes feel that having two good players at one position cant be done. Joes, its nothing wrong with having both jeremy and doug. If one gets hurt, you have the other. One of you wrote a crazy article after the bucs drafted oj howard that brate may be traded due to the draft pick. You wrote crazy articles before the draft of not understanding why fans wanted to get rid of brate. No fan said that, but many sure wanted to add another quality tight end because 2 is better than one. Again, there is nothing wrong with having two good/great players at one position. Its called depth, flexibility, insurance ie bad a$$ football team.

  27. Blackmagic00 Says:

    Speaking Sims being a one trick pony as a back, why the heck haven’t we seen him in the slot? Might be an absolute hidden gem there.

  28. Blackmagic00 Says:

    “Speaking of”

  29. Pickgrin Says:

    “McNichols got pushed down some by the abundance of talent at the position and other comparably graded backs not having a medical red flag.”

    That is a good summation of how we ended up with a talent like McNichols in the 5th round. That and a bit of LUCK!

    I’ve said it before here – but it bears repeating. You want to talk comparables?

    Compare #8 overall pick Christian McCaffrey’s prolific running and receiving stats from the last 2 years in College – to those of pick #162 Jeremy McNichols. Very similar. VERY productive – both of them.

    So the Panthers and Buccaneers both drafted versatile RB prospects in 2017 who were VERY productive in College running and receiving. CMac has the edge on rushing yards – both were about equal stats wise receiving in impressive fashion – McNichols is the better pass blocker/protector and has more than twice as many TDs as CMac the last 2 years. MORE THAN TWICE AS MANY TDS!!! as the “dynamic” Christian McCaffrey. They run the same 40 yd dash time.

    Now compare the value of the pick position itself. Via the standard “draft trade chart” – pick #8 is valued at 1400 points. Pick #162 is valued at 26.6 points.

    So yea – JMac had a recent shoulder surgery (which was considered relatively routine and he’s expected to be ready for the full 2017 season) – that very small “risk” factor aside, the only conclusion from looking at these very similar and “comparable” RB prospects is that:

    Carolina GROSSLY overpaid for their theirs and the Bucs acquisition was the equivalent of walking up to a yard sale late afternoon as everything is being put away and scoring a really nice looking item you need in nearly new condition for pennies on the dollar…

  30. Buc4Lyfe79 Says:

    Some would say an across the 32 teams boards top 5 talent like OJ, dropping to almost 20 in the first round is an extreme plummet.

  31. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    Agree about Sims in the slot.


    Interesting analysis backed up by some facts. I hope you’re correct. If I had to go one way or the other I’d probably side with you….I think they both have productive careers which makes our choice feature a lot of value as you point out.

  32. BigMacAttack Says:

    Sims has dropped critical passes last season leading to losses at crucial points in games. Sims is horrible in clutch situations. He won’t be missed.

  33. tnew Says:

    Homework guys.. won’t take long. Watch these two videos.. Tell me which looks more comfortable catching a football. They are quick looks..

    Im not saying Sims has bad hands.. Joe is quick to point how “buttery” they are, I think that is saying they are soft not slippery… but JMC.. he just makes everything look easier and smoother.

    Another thing to watch is how stable their head is. The less the head moves while running, the easier it is to track the ball.