When the Green Bay Packers and GM Ted Thompson selected Eddie Lacy in the second round with the 61st overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, I wasn’t as initially enthralled as the rest of the Packers faithful might have been.
Don’t get me wrong: I saw plenty of Alabama Crimson Tide games to see the power Lacy possessed between the tackles and the nifty spin moves he utilized to ditch would-be tacklers. Yet, I was skeptical of the running back system the Tide had used to put the program at the top of the college football world and how Lacy’s skills would transfer to the NFL. 2009 Heisman Trophy winner and New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram hasn’t quite panned out, and Trent Richardson, has been a bust thus far in his NFL career.
Lacy rode the wave of his 2013 national championship performance against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish where he rushed for 140 yards on 20 carries with one score. Had it not been for a toe injury, other franchises would have certainly snagged the running back much higher in the second round. Luckily, Green Bay saw past the minuscule detail, and may have found its franchise running back in the process.
To everyone who follows the Packers, the team’s longing for a running game, nevertheless a reliable back, was beginning to get exhaustive. Ever since Ryan Grant ran for 1,000-plus yards in 2009, it has been RB-by-committee for head coach Mike McCarthy and co., which put heavy emphasis on Aaron Rodgers and his aerial attack. Of course, amidst the disappearance of a satisfactory complement to the offense, the franchise hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in 2011.
Still, if Green Bay was going to be a consistent contender, the running game would have to play a legitimate factor, and Lacy proved he is the man for the job this past season, earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors.
What impressed me the most about Lacy was not the 1,178 yards he accumulated on the ground or the 11 touchdowns he scored, but his sheer toughness. Battling a bum ankle for the last month or so of the regular season, the Gretna, L.A. native stepped up his game when the team needed him most, proving to be a human wrecking ball in collisions with opposing linebackers and a skillful ballerina once he reached the back end of the secondary.
You can’t put a lot of stock into a successful rookie campaign other than acknowledging the potential there for a noteworthy stint in the league. With that being said, the future is as bright as it has ever been in the recent memory for the Packers and their balanced offensive weapons.