NFC South: Ranking the top 5 running backs

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Dec 28, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) stiff arms New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Parys Haralson (98) as he runs with the ball during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

5. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doug Martin had an incredible rookie campaign back in 2012, rushing 319 times for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns. His performances earned him a place on the PFW All-Rookie Team.

Dec 21, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA;Green Bay Packers free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) and inside linebacker Sam Barrington (58) tackle Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin (22) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Green Bay Packers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, Martin has been plagued with injuries in the two seasons since, playing in just 17 games out of a possible 32.

So the question remains — can a healthy Martin return to his rookie form?

If so, he’s easily one of the best running backs in the division. Right now though, it’s hard to put him any higher based on what we’ve seen in the past two seasons.

Sander Philipse of Bucs Nation raises some good points about Martin in this article.

In the year Martin had his success, the offensive line in front of him was excellent. Since then, he hasn’t had the same support up front. Does this make him a back who needs a strong line to be able to perform at a high level?

If so, then that’s a major concern for the Buccaneers.

Philipse also writes that Martin has lost some weight and looked more explosive this offseason. Perhaps he’s back to full health and ready to pick up where he left off three years ago.

It’s tough to know exactly how Martin will perform in 2015, but Buccaneers fans will be hoping he is the perfect complement to Jameis Winston and the passing game.

He’s proven he can play at an NFL level, but patience is wearing thin and the 2012 success alone simply won’t cut it for much longer. For now though, his potential to have a strong season puts him on this list.

Next: No. 4