Packers Struck Pay Dirt with Selection of Eddie Lacy

Approaching the 2013 NFL Draft General Manager Ted Thompson was faced with needs at the key positions of defensive line and running back and a philosophy of taking the best players available. Thompson seemed to accomplish both.

The 2013 draft was big for the Green Bay Packers.  General Manager Ted Thompson was faced with needs at the key positions of defensive line and running back and a philosophy of taking the best players available. Thompson seemed to accomplish both.

The Packers GM selected stud D-lineman Datone Jones in round one (#26) filling a huge need with an incredibly talented and rapidly ascending player. Eddie Lacy fell into his lap in round two when many analysts had projected the number-one rated running back wouldn’t last past the Packers first round pick much less into round two.

As it turned out no running backs were selected in round one, but round two saw a run on the position with four off the board. 

Giovani Bernard was the first to be selected at #37 by the Bengals.  He was followed by Le’Veon Bell to Pittsburgh at #48, Wisconsin’s Montee Ball to the Denver Broncos at #58 and finally Eddie Lacy to the Packers at #61.  It was a gamble that paid off for GM Ted Thompson when he passed on Lacy and Ball to swap picks with the Broncos and still land Lacy three picks later.  Be it good fortune, blind luck, or skillful maneuvering on draft day Thompson struck gold by selecting Eddie Lacy.

Lacy ran away with the AP’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award for the 2013 campaign.  He received 35 votes to easily out-distance runner-up Keenan Allen of the Chargers who tallied 12 votes.  Third place went to fellow running back Bernard with just one vote.

During a critical seven game run his rookie season and Aaron Rodgers sidelined by injury, Lacy was arguably the Packers MVP.  Lacy finished near the top of the league’s statistical list in yard- after-contact and forced missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.  In addition he broke the long-standing franchise record for rookie rushing yards (1139) logged by John Brockington in 1971.

Using the 2014 end-of-season statistics for running backs Pro Football Focus determined that the top running back in the league was Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell.  Bell was followed by All Pro Marshawn Lynch and tied with C.J. Anderson at #3 was Eddie Lacy.  Giovanni Bernard checked in at #35 and Montee Ball, sidelined with injuries in 2014 and playing in only five games, failed to crack the top 60 rankings.

Bell, Lynch and Lacy all averaged an impressive 4.7 yards per carry last year.

Comparing Lacy's stats against the other half backs selected before him in his draft class:

Gio Bernard        29 games, 228 attempts,  1375 rushing yards, 4.1 average,  15 TD’s,   863 receiving yards

Le’Veon Bell       29 games, 534 attempts,  2221 rushing yards, 4.2 average,  19 TD’s, 1253 receiving yards    

Montee Ball        21 games, 175 attempts,    731 rushing yards,  4.2 average,    5 TD’s,   207 receiving yards

Eddie Lacy         31 games, 530 attempts,  2317 rushing yards, 4.4 average,  24 TD’s,    684 receiving yards

Lacy is the rushing leader by a small margin and a distant third in receiving yardage.  He leads all running backs with an impressive 24 total touchdowns.

But there is another aspect of his game that must thrill the Packers coaching staff.  What is perhaps as impressive and high on importance for the Green Bay Packers is his blocking.  Of the top 60 halfbacks rated by Pro Football Focus, Lacy was better than all but four.  And higher ranked than any of the backs compared above.

The disparity in receiving yards is also easily explained.  With Lacy as proficient at blocking and with the prolific wide-outs at Aaron Rodgers disposal he just isn’t a primary, or even secondary receiver in the same vein that Bell is.

Lacy has developed into a durable three-down back that can be depended on in all phases of the game:  running, receiving and blocking.

There is an argument to be made that Le’Veon Bell has been the better back.  But given the entire body of work, is there any doubt that knowing what we know now that Lacy would be the first back off the table in a 2013 draft re-do?  NFL.com media analyst Bucky Brooks did just that in 2014 and suggested Lacy would have been the 1st running back selected and 6th overall pick of the Cleveland Browns.

Fortunately the Packers don’t have to worry about a re-do and the answer to that Packers re-do question would be a definitive “yes”.

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Comments (20)

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gr7070's picture

July 13, 2015 at 07:51 am

"There is an argument to be made that Le’Veon Bell has been the better back. But given the entire body of work, is there any doubt that knowing what we know now that Lacy would be the first back off the table in a 2013 draft re-do? "

You answered that question in the previous sentence. Obviously there is some doubt since Bell might be considered the better back.

Of course, that shouldn't take away from Lacy. He's a great RB and was a steal in the second round. Too bad we can't say anything of the sort about Jones.

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lebowski's picture

July 13, 2015 at 07:57 am

"The Packers GM selected stud D-lineman Datone Jones in round one (#26) filling a huge need with an incredibly talented and rapidly ascending player". I almost stopped reading right there, but wanted to find out if there was a punch line somewhere.

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calabasa's picture

July 13, 2015 at 09:41 am

Took the words right out of my mouth. I thought he was talking about a different Datone Jones.

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JerseyAl's picture

July 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

If Jeff is referring to the perception of Jones at the time, then he is 100% accurate. What has happened since is another matter.

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Since'61's picture

July 13, 2015 at 08:48 am

Lacy has been a great addition to the Packers offense. RB was a major missing piece and he has filled it brilliantly. He does leaves some yards on the field on some plays as his vision of the field is not a strong point for him. Also, he has had 2 concussions so there is some concern for long term durability there. Jeff, nice job on the RB comparison. I realize that Lacy is good with ball security but I would have liked to have seen the comparison include # of fumbles for each back ( Not a complaint, just a suggestion). Thanks, Since '61

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Evan's picture

July 13, 2015 at 10:14 am

"He does leaves some yards on the field on some plays as his vision of the field is not a strong point for him."

Perhaps...but I'd say he more than makes up for those lost yards by trucking and dragging would-be tacklers 5-10 yards down the field.

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

Amen! A certain Vikings DB agrees with you.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

July 13, 2015 at 09:23 am

I was sitting there watching it with my grandson, I was at the kitchen table almost broke it in half. I just said no way, how in the world did we end up getting him. Did I say I screamed a few times and believe me its paid off big and its just the start.

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 13, 2015 at 11:58 am

Felt the same way when Cobb was drafted. Texted all my UK Wildcats friends that we just hit it big.

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Tarynfor12's picture

July 13, 2015 at 09:41 am

""The Packers GM selected stud D-lineman Datone Jones in round one (#26) filling a huge need with an incredibly talented and rapidly ascending player".

From the moment I read that,I continued reading but with the angst of needing to peek around a corner with caution of getting mugged by the next assault of words as they would pertain to describing other(s) before getting to Eddie Lacy.

Happily,that fear was put to rest when the Datone Jones doorway was slammed shut almost as fast it was opened and making a solid read, but please be more careful and sensitive in how you wish to awaken those from early Monday morning slumbers and removing sleep from their eyes.A bucket of cold water would have sufficed and its shock even lesser. :)

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 13, 2015 at 09:52 am

Lacy has given the offense a true rushing threat that it hasn't had since Ryan Grant and player at RB that other teams had to focus on stopping since Ahman Green.

With Lacy the offense has balance. He compliments Rodgers really well. But Lacy is at his best when he is receiving the ball moving towards the LOS. That is why I hope they stick with the Pistol formation. Rodgers likes the shotgun, and Lacy likes lining up behind the QB. It blends their 2 styles and allows each player to do what they do best.

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BELIEVER's picture

July 13, 2015 at 10:12 am

His receiving the ball last year was huge, 42 catches for 427 with a long of 67 yards is the deal breaker. Just seeing him in the open field makes any DB worried. Just a thrill to watch. I don't care what the others have done. Lacy is the best fit for the Packers.

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 13, 2015 at 10:27 am

'I don't care what the others have done. Lacy is the best fit for the Packers.' Exactly right. He is a perfect fit for what they need to do.

As I stated earlier that they still need to find how to use him the best in their offense, but when they switched to the Pistol it really put Rodgers and Lacy together and allows them to do what they do the best.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

July 13, 2015 at 12:17 pm

I don't know if Lacy is the better fit between the 2 ONLY because (I feel) Shotgun formation benefits Bell much more than it does for Lacy (who has a slower get up). I love them both. But I think Bell could offer a tad bit more in the passing game than Lacy.

We all know the Pack loves some Shotgun. Rather it's from their own 10-15 yard line or the opponent's 10-15 yard line.

If the Pack only had to pass 10-15 times a game Lacy would hands down be the better fit. But with the Great #12 taking snaps this team will always be pass-first. In crunch time situations no matter the down and distance - it's a pass.

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NewNikeShoes's picture

July 13, 2015 at 10:26 pm

IMO, we needed a physical, punishing presence much more than we needed a receiving one. Bell is only so good cause of his versatility, but Lacy is better when pounding the other team to oblivion. We already had a great passing offense, we just needed a wrecking ball.

He's the best fit for our team, and, with his new ability to open up a passing dimension just made him that more useful.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

July 13, 2015 at 04:25 pm

"Bell is only so good cause..." you can stop there.

I know there's a trade off when it comes to comparing the 2 and I love the brute that Lacy is when running the ball. But I've yet to feel like we can run the ball whenever/however on whoever. We're not that type of team (not yet at least).

Also, let's not act like Bell is a better catcher than he is a runner. He's no easy tackle either.

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 13, 2015 at 06:10 pm

Agreed. I'd have been happy with Bell or Lacy. Both fit what I thought the Packers needed: a big, bruising back in the mold of Marshawn Lynch.

BTW - Ripkowski made the top 10 in PFFs ranking of pass blocking by running backs. It's Kuhn v. the 3rd or 4th TE, I'm thinking.

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Dan Stodola's picture

July 14, 2015 at 11:14 pm

Its not really about being able to pass block for rookie RB. Its about knowing who to block. I'm sure Rip can block his assignment when he knows who it is. But for a rookie RB to be able to pickup and know who to block is the important part. If its a simple read and his assignment is straight forward, no problems. But what if he's lined up on one side, the defense changes at the snap, thus changing his assignment dramatically, can he make the adjustment quick enough and get there to make the block.

Take the Kuhn block on Peppers. Kuhn was on the other side of the formation, knew no one his side needed to be blocked, quickly (like b4 the snap) knew Peppers would be the unblocked pass rusher. And Kuhn was able to make that instantaneous read AND get across the formation w/o getting in Rodgers way to make the block.

I don't think any rookie RB is likely to KNOW instantly and w/o question who to block in that situation. That is the definition of Kuhn's value to Rodgers/McCarthy and I don't believe any rookie would be able to make that block or something similar.

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NewNikeShoes's picture

July 13, 2015 at 10:25 pm

Oh, I worded that wrong, didn't I.
What I meant was that Bell is terrifying to play against because he can hurt the other team with the pass and the run.

My B for the mix-up

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pointerjeff's picture

July 13, 2015 at 03:06 pm

To my readers: The key word in the first paragraph is "seemed". It obviously never materialized, but at the time Jones and Lacy certainly seemed to be the answer. And in 2013 who disputed that notion?
Hindsight indeed possesses 20/20 vision.

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