This article was originally published on Feb. 22 at the NFL Combine.
INDIANAPOLIS––Eddie Lacy is no fool. Even though he hasn’t yet stepped on an NFL football field, he can see the situation in Green Bay, the elite quarterback, the explosive offense and know that it’s a place he can have success.
“I feel as though they wouldn’t just be able to spread the field out,” said Lacy on the prospect of joining the Packers. “They’d have to actually have to defend the run as well. If Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback, you’re not going to put nine guys in the box. So it’ll kind of balance out.”
Lacy is at the NFL Combine this week auditioning for all 32 teams in the NFL, but as a running back who’s considered perhaps the top player at his position and coming off the board late in the first round, speculation is ripe on the Alabama product’s potential for landing in Green Bay.
“At the running back position I only have one guy in the first round, and that is Eddie Lacy,” said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock in a recent conference call.
In recent survey of internet mock drafts, only teammate Barrett Jones showed up more times than Lacy as going to the Packers.
Like Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson before him, Lacy is looking to become the third consecutive Alabama running to enter the Draft as a junior and be the top running back taken.
After sitting behind Ingram and Richardson the previous two seasons, Lacy broke out as a senior rushing for 1,322 yards on 204 carries (6.48 ypc) and 17 touchdowns along with 22 catches and two touchdowns through the air. It was a performance good enough to be named All-SEC.
Lacy is known as a power, workhorse back, a quality that he thinks is still needed in a game that’s becoming increasingly more pass-oriented.
“I know they pass the ball a lot (in the NFL), but at the same time, having a guy who can run the ball a lot benefits your offense,” said Lacy. “In short yardage plays, you can’t really throw the ball when it’d be easier to run it. If you have that running back, it’s not a problem.”
When looking to see the negatives surrounding Lacy, there’s a chicken or the egg debate if he’s the product of a dominant offensive line at Alabama or he helped the line look so good.
The Crimson Tide has three offensive linemen at the NFL Combine in Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker. Plus, they’ve got a couple more still in college that will be playing on Sundays in a matter of time.
There’s also a the recent injury concern. Lacy reportedly suffered a small tear in the tissue around his hamstring and won’t work out at the Combine, although he will at Alabama’s pro day on March 13.
There’s no shortage of questions about the Packers running game either. After having five different players lead the team in rushing for at least one game in 2012, there’s no consensus on a starter at the position heading into 2013.
James Starks and Alex Green have each carried the load at one time or another for the Packers, but injury concerns have put their status in jeopardy. And both Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant will be unrestricted free agents at the beginning of the new league year.
DuJuan Harris surprised in a four-game stint to end the regular season by rushing for 157 yards on 34 carries (4.6 ypc) and two touchdowns, but at 5-9 and 208 lbs., there are concerns about his ability to be a feature back.
Perhaps that’s where Lacy comes in, as a complement to Harris: Lacy carries the load while Harris could be the change of pace. In any case, Lacy believes he has the diversity in his game to be all things to all people.
“Just being able to be a powerful runner, if I need to or an agile runner and make people miss,” said Lacy. “With my size, being able to be agile and make people miss, that’s really key.”
Whether that comes to fruition with the Packers is yet to be seen. If he’s still on the board with the 26th pick, the Packers could have the opportunity to select the first running back in the 2013 Draft class.
Brian Carriveau is the author of “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.