McNichols facing uphill climb in bid to make Bucs roster

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TAMPA – It’s amazing how quick some fans and even media members are to over-rate players selected in the draft. Take the rhetoric we’re hearing and seeing about Bucs fifth-round draft choice Jeremy McNichols.

Already there’s talk in some circles of McNichols starting for the Bucs on opening day and eventually pushing Doug Martin off the roster and the likes of Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers down the depth chart.

Slow your roll there, folks. We’re talking about a fifth-round draft pick here, one whose college stats, according to several scouts, were probably inflated by the poor defenses he faced in the Mountain-West conference.

Now, we wish no ill-will on McNichols. It would be great for him and the Bucs if he turned out to be this year’s Jordan Howard. But even Bucs coach Dirk Koetter is pumping the breaks on any such thoughts.

When asked how it was the Bucs intended to use a player who graded out well in scout’s evaluations as a runner, pass catcher and pass protector, Koetter said it’s way too soon to think along those lines.

“How we’re going to use him, first of all he’s going to have to make (the team),’’ Koetter said.

Some consider that a foregone conclusion, but the truth of the matter is only three of the nine players the Bucs have drafted on Day 3 of the draft during the Jason Licht era are still with the team.

Several of them never even made it past their first training camp. Again, no one wants to see that happen to McNichols, but Koetter pointed out that McNichols is looking at an uphill climb to stick around.

He also pointed out that this was one of those cases where the Bucs simply followed their draft board and took advantage of a situation in which a player they’d graded high had fallen to them.

“When it came to our pick, he was still there and we had a pretty good grade on him,’’ Koetter said. “But he’s going to (face) some pretty good competition. We like the group we have in place here.’’

Look, McNichols is a nice prospect. He’s fast and capable as a pass catcher and pass protector and he’s a solid runner. All that suggest he could at least be a solid NFL running back.

That’s the general assessment most scouts have given him and the fact Martin won’t be around for the start of the season will help McNichols in his quest for a roster spot.

But let’s not crown him the Bucs new feature back just yet. As Koetter suggest, let’s see if he can make the roster first and if not that, earn a spot on the practice squad before we start doling out carries to him.


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