What I like-I have always been the type of draftnik that favors bigger backs. And Lacy is built like a big muscular fireplug. In today’s NFL where defensive players keep getting bigger and faster, Lacy has the look of a back who can be a feature back without the concern about breaking down from the hits. In fact quite the contrary. This is a young man who runs with a rather violent nature. Great pad level, massive legs moving forward all the time and unafraid to drop that shoulder and plow through arm tackles.
That almost certainly means he can’t be quick or agile, right? Wrong. His quickness is elite, especially for a man his size. He has great change of direction, tremendous balance on his slide inside or outside, and stays light on his feet. His burst and quickness is rare for a man his size. A lot of his best runs were out of the pistol where he had to make one read and either go play side or back side. When he went to play side he showed excellent vision and patience, waiting for his blocks to develop, but when he reads backside it’s like he’s shot out of a gun.
And in the open field should he decide to hit the circle button and pull that spin move, defenders are lost. It’s pick your poison with Lacy whether he works away from you with a jump cut or spin move, or if you come at him high he may just decide to run you over. Out of the backfield he’s an adequate receiver, with 22 catches. He does a nice job setting up the screen and when he has blockers in front of him shows nice patience.
What I don’t like-Injuries are never good and Lacy had been nicked up a bit during his career, and so a team has to be a bit hesitant to draft Lacy, especially in the first round. Lacy’s running style could lend itself to being a little dinged up from time to time. If that’s not a concern, than it’s not a weakness.
Lacy also had some problems early in his career with fumbles, but in 2012 he did a much better job getting both hands on the football in traffic, so it has improved. A final criticism I have heard of Lacy is his straight line speed. He might not ever run a 4.4 40 in shorts, but you don’t have to watch many of his games to see him run away from defensive players. But I concede he is not a home run threat in the truest sense.
But I will say my main criticism of Lacy is in his decisions at times. There are times when Lacy doesn’t take what’s there. I can appreciate his confidence but there are times when the Crimson Tide offensive line didn’t give him the crease or cutback lane and he didn’t take what was given. I respect the fact that he’s powerful enough to run through arm tackles, but he’s got to pick his spots better. Those creases for big runs won’t always be there, and as we’ve seen with guys who excel with jump cuts and lateral moves, they do take negative plays at times.
What it all means-If there is a sure thing in this draft at running back, it might be Lacy. His closest comparison to a current NFL player is Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson. Similar running style, speed, moves and style of play. They both love that jump cut and have that burst through the hole and never shy away from contact. But the fact that Lacy is shorter and plays with better pad level gives him the edge over Jackson for me.
I love watching Lacy do his thing. Every time he gets the ball you can see him head up looking for a crease knowing he’s got that jump stop and quick cut. He gets through the crease and defensive players have to decide to go high and he either spins off them or trucks them with his shoulder, or they go low and hope he’s not too agile and just slips out. I have read lots of others who have criticized Lacy because he shared carries or that he’s not good enough in pass protection.
It’s a trade off I am glad to take for a talent like Lacy. Oh, and much is made about projecting potential when it comes to breaking down players. I can certainly see Lacy getting better in the NFL, especially in terms of catching passes out of the backfield, and his judgment in working out of bounds on occasion instead of taking extra hits along with taking the yards that are there instead of always looking for the big run. But overall there’s no back in this draft who can run the ball like Lacy.