AJ Dillon Draws Comparisons to Eddie Lacy from Gutey & That's a Good Thing

GM Brian Gutekunst has compared A.J. Dillon to Eddie Lacy and for Green Bay Packers' fans, that's excellent news.

Saturday was the Green Bay Packers first training camp practice of the 2020 season, and while there were several takeaways from the team's first outing, there was perhaps none bigger - literally - than just how massive rookie running back A.J. Dillon truly is.

This picture below by Rob Demovsky of ESPN began circulating the internet, and as impressive as Dillon looks, based on what Aaron Rodgers, Matt LaFleur, and other media members had to say, I'm not sure it does Dillon justice.

When asked about the second-round pick, LaFleur had this to say:

“He has got some massive legs,” LaFleur said, via ESPN.com. “That’s something we talked about with our staff, we have not seen a running back built like that — not in my career, that I’ve been around. He walks around pretty comfortably at 250 for a back and moves really well. Big legs, big calves. He’s a well-built guy. It’ll be exciting to see him get up to speed mentally. That’s going to be his biggest hurdle, especially with the guys in that room who have a pretty good comfort within the offense. But he’s a big boy.”

And keep in mind that LaFleur spent a year with Derrick Henry in Tennessee. When Rodgers was asked about his thoughts on Dillon, he echoed similar sentiments:

“He’s a large, large man… he’s a well built guy. Excited to see him get up to speed mentally… he’s a big boy.”

While I don't believe that there are many or any, players out there - at least at the running back position - who are built quite like Dillon is with his blend of size and speed, shortly after the draft, GM Brian Gutekunst did compare him to one former Packer; Eddie Lacy:

"I think he's obviously built to last," Gutekunst said after he drafted Dillon. "He has had a lot of production over the last three years and proven that. We had a chance to have Eddie Lacy here for a few years where he was that kind of back, and I think A.J. can do some similar things."

Coming out of college, Dillon measured at 6'0" - 247 pounds while Lacy was slightly shorter at 5'11" - 231 pounds, although, as we all know, his weight would fluctuate. While bigger, Dillon is by far the superior athlete. Utilizing the Relative Athletic Scoring Table, Dillon scored a 9.16 out of 10 with a 4.53 40-yard dash. Meanwhile, Lacy scored a below-average 4.58 with a 4.64 40-time. 

When it comes to their college production, once again, Dillon has a significant edge. He would appear in 35 games over his career at Boston College, totaling 4,382 rushing yards, including two seasons of over 1,500, with an average of 5.2 yards per carry and 38 touchdowns. On the flip side, Lacy really only saw major playing time during his final season in which he rushed for over 1,300 yards at an impressive 6.5 yards per carry with 17 rushing touchdowns. But even with less playing time compared to Dillon, Lacy was utilized more in the passing game at Alabama. 

However, where we really see what Gutey was referring to, is when both players have the ball in their hands. First, let's take a look at Eddie Lacy:

Now let's take a look at a run from A.J. Dillon:

I'm sure jokes have and will be made about this comparison because of how Lacy's time in Green Bay ended, but if Dillon turns into the player that Lacy was early in his career, then the Green Bay Packers will be in excellent shape.

As a rookie, Lacy rushed for nearly 1,200 yards at 4.1 yards per carry along with 11 touchdowns as he won the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Over the next two seasons, Lacy rushed for just shy of 1,900 yards, including another 1,100 yard season in Year 2, at 4.4 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns. 

Although impressive in the run game, Lacy was a big factor in the passing game as well. During his first three seasons, he was targeted 127 times, hauling in 97 of them for an impressive catch rate of 76.4 percent. He also averaged nine yards per reception with six total touchdowns. 

And while Dillon wasn't utilized heavily in the passing game at Boston College, as Gutekunst pointed out, it wasn't because he couldn't be a part of it, he just wasn't asked to be:

“He’s really an all-around back,” Gutekunst said. “While he was not used in the passing game a ton at Boston College, it’s not because he’s not capable, it’s just kind of their offense. I think he’ll bring that to the table, and you’ll see more of that in his pro career.”

To further illustrate this point, Packers' college scout Mike Owen mentions that just because we didn't see Dillon making plays in games, doesn't mean that he's lacking the ability:

“What surprised me is, you might not see it much during games, but you go to practice and you see him running routes and see him catching the football. And he’s got real good hands,” Owen said. “His receiving game is actually further along than you might believe. That’s just an added element to his game. He does have pass-catching ability.”

So I'm here to tell you, the Packers didn't spend the 62nd pick on a running back that wasn't going to contribute to the passing game. 

From their size, to their playmaking abilities, and even their similar running styles, it's fairly easy to see why Gutekunst compared Dillon to Lacy. And if Dillon does, in fact, do similar things to Lacy as Gutey put it, then Green Bay Packer fans should be thrilled because we got one heck of a player. 

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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Comments (19)

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murf7777's picture

August 17, 2020 at 12:53 pm

"fat jokes aside".....bodies are quite different, one has what looks like 4% body fat, while the other had probably 15-20%. Lacy had a short but very good career with the Packers but just couldn't stay away from the cheeseburgers! Dillon is rock solid and I'm sure will strike fear in some safeties and ILB by the 4th quarter. I hope he has similar numbers than Lacy and progresses to a 5 - 10 year career with the Pack. The potential is there to have even better numbers, although difficult in year 1 with Jones and Williams sharing the load. I'm excited to see the LaFluer 2.0 offense this year.

Call me optimistic, but I think many will be surprised how explosive this O will be, especially if Rodgers buys in.

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murf7777's picture

August 17, 2020 at 01:35 pm

Paul, after watching both college highlights I definitely see some comparisons. Both have massive leg power, explosive, very good foot work, balance, good vison with patience and excellent spin moves. Both tend to move away from contact (spin and change of direction) vs plowing into people. Should help extend his career.

What I see different from Dillon, is breakaway speed a little better, more usage of the stiff arm and was successful in running outside more frequently. He should be a good match for zone blocking scheme the Packers use. Not that Lacy didn't, but I really noticed that Dillon always seemed to be moving forward and getting the extra yards after contact.

What will be important is whether he excels at pass protection and running routes. I believe they received good value picking Dillon at the end of round 2.

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Bure9620's picture

August 17, 2020 at 06:08 pm

One of my favorite picks of the draft....

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BAMABADGER's picture

August 17, 2020 at 02:42 pm

While at Alabama, Eddie admitted that he did not enjoy playing football. He didn't take the money and run, but lazily ate his way out of professional football. Initial indications are AJ Dillon has more discipline and focus. He has the potential to be a Packer all-time great running back. Go Pack Go.

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Bure9620's picture

August 17, 2020 at 07:44 pm

I have a colleague in CT where he is from and knows Dillon a bit, basically said the guy is a complete gym rat, totally motivated, totally humble......

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Stroh's picture

August 17, 2020 at 11:49 pm

Lacy was good under the strict discipline of Saban. Once he was released from that world and had more money and freedom in the NFL he just didn't have the discipline to keep his weight in control. Diet and Conditioning both suffered after the left Bama and the structure Saban provided.

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murf7777's picture

August 18, 2020 at 07:40 am

Makes sense Stroh, his pics from college look totally different from when he left the Packers. Man was never motivated to succeed to a higher level.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 17, 2020 at 06:22 pm

Dillon, with the lack of cap space GB has, is why I’d be surprised to see Jones back after this year.

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flackcatcher's picture

August 17, 2020 at 07:10 pm

Well, Gute does seem to plan ahead...

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dobber's picture

August 17, 2020 at 09:50 pm

It's a game of replacement. Keep your core players, be prepared to replace the rest.

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Packman60's picture

August 17, 2020 at 08:04 pm

Dillion and Jones have completely different running styles which complement each other very well, so it's certainly not out of the question that they would go with the two headed monster at running back. I've felt all along the Packers could probably resign 3 of the 5 with Clark and Bak being the highest priorities. I think it comes down to how well King plays this year whether he becomes the higher priority between himself and Jones and how Dillion looks in his opportunities.

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Stroh's picture

August 17, 2020 at 11:46 pm

I think its entirely conceivable that Jones and Dillon are going to be LaFleur's 1 / 2 punch at RB. I don't think Jamaal Williams is in the future plans at all. It just depends on Jones being willing to take the Packers number. Getting Jones done at 4 yr and 24 M, similar to Eckler in SD seems like a good price point. Jones injury history and being mostly a RB by committee type RB will prevent him getting top dollar in FA.

Tough call between King and Jones, but my guess is Jones 1st priority if he takes a team friendly deal, then King if Jones isn't amenable. King could play well enough that he prices himself out of the picture. If plays Pro Bowl level and is in line for 16-18M per the Packers can't afford him. If he plays similar to last year and stays healthy again they might be able to get him at 10-12M.

But yeah. A Dillon/Jones combo at RB seems to be very much in the plans for the next few years if Jones can get done and I actually think thats very possible.

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Minniman's picture

August 18, 2020 at 04:01 am

As King got to play nearly all last season, his flaw got exposed:

He plays well deep or with the opponent in front of him, but struggled in press situations or once his opponent got past him. He also had a proclivity to take some bad angles and get juked.

If he addressed these aspects this off-season then I think it's a 50:50 call (him or Jones).

If he continues to get exposed in this area then he will possibly be an optional extra instead of a must re-sign.

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Stroh's picture

August 19, 2020 at 05:01 pm

Apparently you don't know what your seeing or are making things up. King graded vrry highly in press and man coverage. Not nearly as well in zone.

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Stroh's picture

August 17, 2020 at 11:33 pm

Lacy's weight didn't fluctuate is kept climbing higher and higher. He was 230 at the combine, by the time he showed up in GB as a rookie for TC he was already at 240, his 2nd year I would say he was close to if not over 250. By the time yr 3 was being played he seemed to me to be over 260. Lacy was on a steady climb his entire career, there was no fluctuation, just a steady climb.

But Gutey is right in that Dillon is very much a power RB similar in style to Lacy. Its just abundantly clear Dillon takes his strength and conditioning far more seriously than Lacy did after he left Bama. Lacy had no discipline when it came to his diet and conditioning.

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Barazinho's picture

August 18, 2020 at 01:05 pm

Did any of you read the interview with Lacy a couple of years ago? He had to be very disciplined about what he ate - unlike every other player on the team who actually had to force calories to keep their weight, he had to be very restrictive. Basically, his metabolism betrayed him. I felt bad for him, especially because of all the abuse hurled at him. The assumptions that he ate his way out of the league are a little off base. It's too bad - it was fun to watch him punish people.

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TXCHEESE's picture

August 18, 2020 at 01:53 pm

No, I would have to agree that Lacy ate himself out of football. Metabolism betrays 50 somethings like myself, but you can beat that by watching what you eat and portion control. He just liked to eat. Dillon is a completely different body type, no pudge on that man, and legs like Earl Campbell. Can't wait for the first time he gets in to the open field and a DB has to bring him down.

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

August 18, 2020 at 06:14 pm

Of all our picks, I’m most excited about this guy. There’s something about a running back that can just run guys over!

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mbpacker's picture

August 20, 2020 at 05:25 pm

Lacey was one of my favorite Packers when he was there and always will be. It's so unfortunate that he didn't last longer. I know a few reporter back in the day questioned how much Eddie really like playing football and I guess his poor dietary habits won out- what a shame! I am all on board with the Dillon pick and have the feeling he is much more into all it takes to play consistently at a high level in the NFL. Wonder if Dillon insured his legs?

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