I thought I'd actually write a Packer's related article to hash up over the weekend. So, let's talk a little running back, what the possibilities are, and what I think should happen if we ever get around to playing football again.
This entire conversation, from my point of view anyway, has to start with Brandon Jackson. You would think the Packers would want to keep him around, especially in pass protection for their one bad hit away franchise in Aaron Rodgers. That said, if the Packers do end up snagging a running back, especially one who can pass block, you really end up with a log jam at the position.
What do I think should happen?
I think the Packers should keep Brandon Jackson AND draft a third down back. There is no reason you can't carry four running backs. I'll get a step further and say that the Packers will roll with only one FB in Kuhn on the roster. With Crabtree showing prowess in the backfield, there is no reason to keep another fullback. This spells the end for Quinn Johnson, but I don't think that would surprise anyone.
With these four running backs and Kuhn, you have both depth and the ability to do most anything in any situation. This of course begs the question who will be lining up on first down?
What do I think will happen?
I think when and if there is a camp, McCarthy stays true to his word and gives Starks the starting role over Grant. I don't see why Starks shouldn't get the job, he finished strong in that position. You aren't supposed to lose your job to injury, but perhaps McCarthy figures it's time to have a little competition at what has been a one trick pony for too many years now.
This isn't a cut on Ryan Grant either. It's going to be a battle between those two all camp long if both guys stay healthy. If they do stay healthy, I think you get a solid dose of both Starks and Grant on first down. With those guys splitting the reps much like Marion Barber and Felix Jones were doing. Jackson will play the role of third back, in passing situations, and in short distance, you could see even see a combo of Grant and Starks in the backfield, leading to longer (and less gut wrenching) plays than the usual third and Kuhn, much like the Giants do with Jacobs and Bradshaw.
Either way, it's a nice problem to have while you're also grooming your newest draft pick.
Who gets the long term job?
Of course injuries always play a part, but if everyone stays healthy, the long term starter at running back is going to be determined by one thing, and one thing only. Hanging on to the ball. I don't know exactly how many games or carries it has been, but a Packer running back hasn't given up a fumble in quite some time. The first guy that drops a few, is going to find himself off the depth chart in a hurry. We all know McCarthy doesn't like it, and with a stash of nice backs he won't hesitate to pull the trigger.
Best case scenario?
Everyone stays healthy all year long, and is able to keep their ego's in check and work together as a three to four headed monster. A little competition is okay, but the first guy that starts whining isn't going to get any sympathy from me. The Packer's haven't had this kind of diversity in the backfield in quite some time, and complimenting a deadly passing attack, it's going to be a formidable if not dominant machine.
Like I said, it's a great problem to have.