"I think somebody will grab him," said Bucs director of college scouting Ruston Webster. "As talented as he is I don't think he'll fall very far."
While Tampa Bay has a backfield that includes Michael Pittman, Mike Alstott, Aaron Stecker and Travis Stephens, the team isn't completely satisfied with its current group of running backs since the Bucs' ground attack ranked 27th in the league and averaged 97.3 yards rushing per game last season.
McGahee would have easily been a top 10 pick, which would have made the Bucs' interest in him a moot point since they're without a first-round pick this year due to the trade with Oakland for head coach Jon Gruden. But that was before McGahee tore two knee ligaments in the Fiesta Bowl on January 5. After he blew out his knee, some thought his career was over, but his rehabilitation has went so well that McGahee has scheduled a workout on April 22, and all 32 NFL teams are invited. The Bucs are expected to be one of the teams in attendance.
‘I have not seen that situation before but I believe that is a little bit of a function of modern sports medicine," Bucs general manager Rich McKay said of McGahee's quick recovery.
McGahee scored 27 touchdowns and averaged 6.4 yards per carry as a sophomore last year, and the fact that some teams are flirting with the idea of taking him in the first round just three months after he suffered the knee injury just tells you how talented he is.
"If it says anything about him, it's about what kind of player he was in college," said Webster. "He's a talented guy."
Despite his knee injury, the Bucs still interviewed McGahee at the Indianapolis Combine in February. Tampa Bay doesn't doubt that the former Hurricanes superstar will make an impact in the NFL. The Bucs and the rest of the league just wish they knew to what degree.
"He will be back," McKay said of McGahee. "The only thing is you can't say with certainty that he will be back at the same level. That cannot be said. You can say he will be back."
McGahee will definitely be drafted, but what round will he go in? Most people tend to agree that he'll be drafted somewhere between midway through the first round to no later than deep in the second round. The Bucs, of course, would prefer the latter since they don't pick until No. 64 overall.
While Tampa Bay wouldn't mind watching McGahee fall to them that late, the team won't hold its breath since several teams will likely be willing to roll the dice on him before the Bucs have the opportunity to.
"A lot of it is going to depend on everybody's medical on him," said Webster. "As good of a player as he is, you'd think somebody is going to take a chance on him."