Picture via: ESPN.com
By Justis Mosqueda
Round 2 Pick 61:
Eddie Lacy RB Alabama
After filling their biggest need in the first round, the Packers focused more towards the offensive side of the ball in Day 2. If you asked a Packer fan what the biggest need( unfilled to this point) was, you would probably get 25/25/25/25% saying RB, WR, TE, or FS.
The Packers signed running back Benson halfway through the preseason last year, and he ended up being the starter, until injury. He was brought in on Wednesday, the day before the draft, but it really seems like Green Bay was trying to check out his foot in case someone didn't fall to them in the draft. They also signed Ryan Grant in December, to see if he could give the team any spark. There was a spark late in the year, but it wasn't by Grant. DuJuan Harris, who was selling cars prior to his mid-season call-up, became a really good change of pace type running back, but gave little value to the passing game (either blocking or receiving), which is why he didn't start until the playoffs. Between to Harris taking over and Benson's injury Alex Green (2011 3rd round selection) and James Starks (lead the RB corp during the Packers playoff run, which lead to a Super Bowl) started games, but neither could fill the role.
Wide Receiver isn't so much an immediate need as it is a future one. Jennings left for Minnesota this year, which hurts, but with Nelson (2011 TD leader), Jones (2012 TD leader), and Cobb (Packers single season total yardage record holder), the star WR didn't really create a need. The problem is the lack of bodies outside those three (Driver also retired) and that Jones is a free agent next off-season, with Nelson a free agent a year later. The Packers don't really need to take someone early, but there is a feeling that they need to take someone.
Tight End is another future need. Finley has a tight hold on the #1 TE spot in Green Bay, but he is almost certainly leaving next year, when his contract runs out. Finley has flashed at times, but his off the field antics, concentration drops, and price tag could have had the Packers looking for their 2014 starting TE. The Packers #2 TE, Tom Crabtree, left to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this off-season, also. With no real pass catching threat in the Packers vertical system outside of Finley, who will be gone in a year, it seems like the Packers would have to think long and hard if someone fell to them.
Free Safety is a now need that the Packers might need to fill this draft. MD Jennings and Morgan Burnett aren't going to cut it in shootouts. With Woodson's departure, the FS position took a huge blow. Burnett was stuck playing a lot of FS last year, when really he should be used to play more SS than anything else.
As the Packers neared their first pick of Day 2, wide receivers kept slipping. Keenan Allen, regarded as a first round talent, lead the pack. When the Packers were finally on deck I was sure I pinned the Packers pick to one of four players: Keenan Allen, Markus Wheaton, Eddie Lacy, or Jesse Williams. Thompson then traded down with San Francisco seven spots and picked up a 6th round pick (#173) in the process. (What's interesting is that Baltimore and Seattle traded right after, and Seattle got a better deal than Green Bay did.) Again, all four of those players were on the board when the Packers were on the clock. It was pretty obvious that the pick was either going to be a WR or a RB. The quality TEs that fit the Packers style (like Gavin Escobar) were already off the board and the high tiered FSs were also gone. The Packers had to chose between slipping players in both an immediate need (Eddie Lacy RB) and a future one (Keenan Allen/Markus Wheaton WR). The pick: Eddie Lacy RB Alabama.
What's interesting to me is that Eddie Lacy isn't really the greatest fit for Green Bay (played in a power system which didn't rely on his vision, while vision is the key to the Packers offense as a running back), but the guys that were good fits, but less talented, went before Lacy to teams that seemed to need a running back like Lacy. Teams like Cincinnati and Pittsburgh could have used a power guy much more than Green Bay, and Montee Ball's skill set translates better to Green Bay's offense than Denver's, in my opinion. Either way, Eddie Lacy was slipping quickly, and Thompson pulled the trigger for many people's top rated running back in this class, including mine.
Now, while Lacy is assumed to take over as the starting running back in 2013, Harris isn't going down without a fight. I think Harris might start in mini camp/the first couple preseason games, but he will eventually lose out to Lacy's superior talents. Lacy backed up Richardson and Ingram (both Heisman winning, first round RBs), so I think his ability to compliment Harris, and vice versa, is there. I have a feeling both of them will be getting some touches (65/35, I'd say) each game. Lacy's lack of wear also helps solidify this pick for me. He's like the anti-Bell/Ball in that aspect. Both of them took plenty of shots in their college days.
Overall, I like Lacy's potential, but I hope he's able to read and react to holes better than say Brandon Jackson did. That's another 2nd round Thompson drafted RB that had the talent to be a great back, but didn't have the vision to be productive in McCarthy's offense. I also wonder what he does in the passing game. In Alabama he seemed to have run routes most of the time, but Green Bay might need him to stay back there and protect their 110 million dollar man in Rodgers. While the fit wasn't great, the upgrade in talent was too much for Thompson to pass up at #61. Three cheers for the end of the Kuhn 3rd and 1 failed dive plays.
For reference here is how Eddie Lacy compared to the rest of the RBs selected Day 2. While he did not do drills at the combine, his pro day numbers are listed below.
All numbers via: NFLDraftScout.com
Eddie Lacys pro day numbers:
40 time: 4.64 (worst of the group)
Vertical Jump: 33.5 (only behind Christine Michael)
3 Cone: 7.33 (worst of the group)
Updated RB depth chart:
Eddie Lacy (possibly not a week 1 starter, but it's likely he is)
DuJuan Harris (2 starts in the playoffs in 2012)
Alex Green (6 starts due to injury in 2012)
James Starks (3 starts due to injury in 2012)
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