While it was the Minnesota Vikings and Shariff Floyd who led the way in Charley Casserly’s Top 10 Draft Steals, the Green Bay Packers‘ selection of Eddie Lacy with the 61st pick in the second round was not far behind – rating as the fourth biggest steal in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were one team that came out publicly saying they shied away from Lacy because of his fused toe, but that didn’t stop Ted Thompson from taking Lacy with his second round selection – even after he had traded down several spots. Thompson and his team of war room workers didn’t seem to think that Lacy’s past injury history would be an issue and he pointed to his upside as the reason they selected him.
Casserly, in his explanation, said it wasn’t so much the selection, but the team that selected Lacy that made the difference. He said that with the Packers’ spread offense in place it will provide opportunities for Lacy to utilize his strengths.
Here’s what Casserly had to say:
Many people rated Lacy as the top running back in this draft and projected him as a possible first-round pick. Still, he makes this list largely because of the team that drafted him. The Packers will spread out defenses, providing Lacy with a bunch of one-on-one opportunities against defensive backs. His size and physical running style will create problems for safeties isolated in space. Lacy could have a big year in Green Bay, as defenses must concentrate on stopping Aaron Rodgers, first and foremost.
What Casserly doesn’t mention is that Lacy should be even more effective in the Packers’ offensive scheme because of the team’s emphasis on improving the offensive line in the draft and the fact that they also selected running back Johnathan Franklin, who is slated to team up with DuJuan Harris as the “lightning” part of the Packers new “thunder and Lightning” package.
Both runners are tough up the middle, but it’s the added threat of Franklin’s quick-cutting ability and speed that should help to bolster the Packers running attack.
The two rookies will join a backfield that already includes James Starks (if he doesn’t get traded), Harris, Alex Green and possibly Cedric Benson, if the veteran is brought back by the Packers. However, with the addition of Lacy and Franklin, the need for Benson is greatly diminished.
Either way, it looks like the Packers have improved its running game immensely the past couple of days – taking an offense with little or no running game to one that should jump into the upper echelon of the league – at least on paper.
What do you think?