A couple of weeks ago I wrote about players whose value I thought had taken a hit following the NFL draft at the end of April. I now wanted to take an opportunity to highlight the opposite; Guys whose value has risen or who hasn’t received additional competition from a rookie.
Following an injury riddled 2016 campaign, comprised of back and hamstring issues, many owners were selling Doug Martin for anything they could get following his 4 game suspension for Adderall. Speculation was ripe over the offseason with many speculating that Tampa would draft a top rookie prospect or sign a free agent; allowing them to cut Doug Martin. However, neither of those 2 things happened.
Since, The Bucs’ GM and many other personnel have been praising Martin 24/7. Jason Licht has come out on numerous occasions stating that Martin is in the “shape of his life” and that they are incredibly impressed with his trajectory. That was followed by Jameis Winston stating, “One name that’s going to shock…Doug Martin. He looks incredible. The way he’s bursting and just being so explosive. It really shows his resilience and how well he’s prepared this offseason.”
The one name the Bucs did add was Jeremy McNichols in the 5th round. However, given the historical success of 5th round RBs in the NFL, it’s hard to imagine him supplanting The Muscle Hamster. Since 1994, there have only been 55 RB2 or better seasons, by RBs drafted after 3rd round. With less than a 10% chance of having an RB2 season, the odds are stacked against McNichols. I’m predicting Martin to immediately resume the starting job once his suspension is lifted.
2016 was not friendly to the Detroit Lions run game. They finished 30th in rushing yards, and 27th in Yards per attempt (3.7YPC). The backfield was led by pass catching specialist, Theo Riddick, and undrafted Zach Zenner. Detroit looked to address the concern this offseason by acquiring TJ Lang and Rick Wagner in Free Agency. Yet they didn’t address the RB position in the draft.
This is probably due to the recovery of Ameer Abdullah. The Lions’ 2015 2nd round pick was looking good (averaging 5.6YPC) before a torn foot ligament ended the 23 year old’s season. A 1st round rookie pick only a couple of seasons ago, Abdulah has now been named the starting RB for Detroit by Lions GM Bob Quinn. After that announcement Abdullah owners may not want to sell low, but it’s worth an enquiry for a guy who is electric when he touches the ball.
Jeremy Maclin/Chris Conley:
I’m sure 2016 didn’t quite go to plan for Maclin. After producing 6 solid seasons in the NFL (with the exception of 2013 due to injury) Maclin struggled in his 7th season with only 536 yards and 2 TDs. That was in large part due to a nagging groin injury all year. Additionally, the last few years have been tough on Chiefs receivers with Alex Smith throwing the ball. His conservative style has led to few passing yards and passing TDs.
However, the Chiefs went out and traded up to draft Pat Mahomes. Noted for his big arm, this is surely a good sign for the Chiefs pass catchers. A signal caller who has the ability to go deep will certainly benefit the likes of Maclin and Conley. If Maclin can bounce back to a full bill of health, look for him to bounce back to his career averages.