Last week, Eddie Lacy returned to football. The Crimson Tide running back has spent the last two months rehabilitating a torn hamstring he incurred during a mock combine in February. His injury prevented him from participating in the NFL Combine and Alabama’s Pro Day. But April 11, teams and scouts finally got to see Lacy make the 40-yard dash on the University of Alabama campus.
Lacy ran a 4.59, a time that would have placed him 15th among all running backs who participated in the Combine. Lacy is listed at 5-foot-11 and 231 pounds, so his time was still impressive. Many see Lacy’s only competition in being the first running back drafted as Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, whose collegiate career may not have been as impressive as Lacy’s but whose showing at these pre-Draft events has been more consistent with his 2012 statistics.
Injury is sure to raise eyebrows among scouts. Some walked away from Lacy’s Thursday performance impressed with the aggressiveness with which he approached his recovery while others, like NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks, left with more questions than answers. Brooks, a former player and scout, was critical of Lacy’s seeming lack of “durability & stamina” after seeing the recruit’s exhaustion following many of the positional drills.
But Lacy’s ability to compete, despite a recent injury combined with last year’s performance with Alabama, has allowed him to retain the prospect of being a first round pick and is likely to beat out Ball for the top back spot. Training exercises aside, Lacy had his career game on one of the NCAAF’s biggest stages, the SEC Championship Game, when the Crimson Tide rolled Georgia 32-28 en route to a crushing victory over Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game. As a junior and the team’s feature back, Lacy won MVP honors after rushing a career-high 181 yards on 22 carries and having nine rushes result in a first down or a touchdown. Overall, Lacy totaled 17 TDs and 1,322 yards on 204 carries in 2012 and earned first-team All-SEC selection.
Scouts Inc. has Lacy listed as the highest-rated back in the draft and 43rd prospect overall. While his decision making and ball handling still have to be refined, Lacy’s fluidity as a back and his pro-level size keep him at the top of the draw.