Alabama Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Montee Ball or Eddie Lacy: Which was the best pick?

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

When Hall of Fame-bound former Green Bay Packers linebacker Dave Robinson announced the franchise’s second round selection of Eddie Lacy last Friday, there were many who felt the pick should have been Wisconsin alum and favorite Montee Ball.

But Packers fans soon realized that Ted Thompson had once again locked in a player who was considered one of the best at his position – and probably a better value at the 61st spot than was Ball, who was selected with the 58th pick by the Denver Broncos.

So, which team got the better of the deal – Packers or Broncos.

Well, if you’re the Broncos, who came out like the Steelers and raised the injury issues with Lacy, Ball was the better deal. If you also ask Vincent Salaz, the author of a piece on the subject over at, Ball was by far the better pick.

Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

As Salaz points out, his reasons are these:

• Lacy ran behind what was widely regarded as the best O-Line in the NCAA and was still not as productive as Montee (who also ran behind a stellar line, but was still able to produce more.)

• One thing I love about him is that this kid loves Terelle Davis. He grew up idolizing him and modeling his game after him. He runs a lot like TD did and I’m sure that that was at least a small factor in the decision making process.

• Montee has just about the most beautiful one-cut move I’ve ever seen. If you take a look at the 3:09 mark in this video: You’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

• The kid has about the best vision of any player in this draft which is great on its own, but he also has the football IQ to know how to use it which will make his transition into the NFL much easier.

• Lacy was unable to improve his stock at his pro day after not being able to work out at the combine. Ball on the other hand (who blamed his ‘poor’ combine numbers on a sinus infection) Posted better numbers in every single exercise. The most tangible of which for most is the 40. At his pro day he posted between 4.43 and 4.49 depending on where you read. Can’t tell me that’s not some top end speed.

• Last but not least, the kid is smart, well spoken, very articulate and hard working. The Denver bronco organization likes people that fall under those categories.

It’s great that Ball is smart, well spoken, articulate and hard-working – in fact anyone who has followed Wisconsin football as most Packers have – we knew that already.

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

What we’re interested in is what the statistics say.

As a word of caution, statistics don’t tell the entire story and can be deceiving – like comparing apples to oranges – but they do illustrate the amount of success each of these player have had in their college careers. However, how that translates into success at the next level is difficult to measure.

In my opinion, both of these players will see success in 2013, but what might give Lacy an advantage, in my opinion, is that the Packers also drafted a guy by the name of Johnathan Franklin out of UCLA.

Franklin, who also runs hard between the tackles, can also provide, like DuJuan Harris, a different look than Lacy will bring to the field. The “Thunder and Lighting” look could give the Packers the most dynamic backfield tandem in years, maybe decades.

But in the meantime, we will let the statistics speak for themselves. At first blush, Hall holds the advantage in sheer numbers, but again, how that translates into success in the NFL remains to be seen.

You be the judge. Who got the better pick?





So here’s a look at Montee Ball’s stats over four years with the Badgers:

Rushing Receiving
Year Team Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
2009-2010 WISC 98 391 4.0 4 9 92 10.2 0
2010-2011 WISC 163 996 6.1 18 16 128 8.0 0
2011-2012 WISC 307 1923 6.3 33 24 306 12.8 6
2012-2013 WISC 357 1827 5.1 22 10 72 7.2 0

Here are Ball’s statistics by game in 2012:

W vs Score Yds Att Y/A Lg TD
Bowl STAN L 14-20 100 24 4.2 0 1
14 NEB W 70-31 202 21 9.6 0 3
13 PENST L 21-24 111 27 4.1 0 1
12 OHIST L 14-21 191 39 4.9 0 1
11 IND W 62-14 198 27 7.3 0 3
9 MCHST L 13-16 46 22 2.1 0 0
8 MINN W 38-13 166 24 6.9 0 2
7 PURD W 38-14 247 29 8.5 0 3
6 ILL W 31-14 116 19 6.1 0 2
5 NEB L 27-30 90 32 2.8 0 3
4 UTEP W 37-26 40 9 4.4 0 1
3 UTAST W 16-14 139 37 3.8 0 1
2 OREST L 7-10 61 15 4.1 0 0
1 NIOWA W 26-21 120 32 3.8 0 1
 Here are the statistics put up by Eddie Lacy over his three-year career at Alabama:
Rushing Receiving
Year Team Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
2010-2011 ALAB 56 406 7.2 6 2 18 9.0 0
2011-2012 ALAB 95 674 7.1 7 11 131 11.9 0
2012-2013 ALAB 204 1328 6.5 17 22 189 8.6 2
Here are his 2012 stats by game:
W vs Score Yds Att Y/A Lg TD
Bowl NOTRE W 42-14 140 20 7.0 0 1
14 GEO W 32-28 181 20 9.0 0 2
13 AUB W 49-0 131 18 7.3 0 2
12 WCAR W 49-0 99 10 9.9 0 3
11 TXAM L 24-29 92 16 5.8 0 1
10 LSU W 21-17 89 11 8.1 0 1
9 MISST W 38-7 26 10 2.6 0 0
8 TENN W 44-13 79 17 4.6 0 0
7 MISOU W 42-10 177 18 9.8 0 3
5 MISS W 33-14 82 19 4.3 0 0
4 FLATL W 40-7 106 15 7.1 0 0
3 ARK W 52-0 55 12 4.6 0 3
2 WKEN W 35-0 36 9 4.0 0 0
1 MICH W 41-14 35 9 3.9 0 1

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Tags: Denver Broncos Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers Montee Ball

  • Greg

    Everyone run’s in the 4.4′s at their “pro” days. Ball & Lacy have comparable speed

  • DPeppz

    I have a strong bias towards Ball after watching him with the Badgers, but I have to go with Lacy. I was hoping we’d pick him as soon as our second round pick came up and he was still available. When we traded down I was afraid we’d lost him and were going to go without any running backs again.

    When he was still there AND Teddy had been able to get another pick out of it, one has to consider that Lacy is an absolute steal. He’s a big bruising back that we can use in short yardage situations instead of Kuhn (love the guy, but he’s no running back). He’s also been part of Championship games and so he’s got to be as ready as can be to jump to the next level of pressure that will be placed on him. His size will have him a punishing back in the winter, and that’s why I liked him over Ball.

    Lacy’s just a bigger body to smash into a cold defender.

    • nicholas perry

      Ball will bomb out just like every Badger RB. I’m a huge Badgers fan but common man, everybody knows Badgers RB don’t = NFL success.

  • Scott Rochon

    Lacy wasn’t getting hit until he was 5 yards downfield! I believe the stat was 4.85 yards. Lacy was the 4th RB drafted. If he was all that, why didn’t he get drafted earlier? When Ball ran behind an NFL line, last year, his numbers were very comparable. I worry about the turf toe that Lacy had that was so bad he had his toe fused! This is why the Steelers passed on him.

    • nicholas perry

      He ran against the Big Ten!! How can you even compare the SEC and the Big Ten. Hell, look at the Big Ten’s bowl records, embarrassing!!!

  • Peter Davidson

    Ball was completey over used in college. Won’t last long in the NFL I bet on that. Of Lacy’s career carriers he had less carrier’s comparied to Ball’s Final season.

  • doolie2007

    Lacy > Ball by a mile

  • FITZCORE1252

    Big Ball/Badger fan here. That being said, Lacy was the pick. Ball was used like a rented mule in Madison, whereas Eddie barely has lost any tread on his tires. He had a great year after his toe surgery, and for all these supposed injuries, he sure played through them, in a highly productive manner, I might add. As for the O-line of Lacy, yes, probably the best in the country, but let’s not pretend The Badgers aren’t constantly pumping out NFL Lineman… I think the line angle is a bit overblown.

    On another note, Lacy will be good, but Franklin will steal the show and be the better pro. Book it.

  • nicholas perry

    I’m just curious, who was the last Wisconsin back to do well in the NFL? Bennett? Nope. Dayne? Nope. Clay? Nope. I could have started with backs before Bennett but you get the point. Throw in the fact that Ball ran the ball against the Big Ten, not the SEC And as FITZCORE has pointed out, Ball has been used and abused far more than Lacy. Eddie Lacy and Franklin are going to be very successful in the NFL because of Rodgers and the receivers. You tell me how to play and predict this offense now!