Green Bay Packers: Survival plan if Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga walk

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Sep 13, 2014; Fresno, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah (8) runs for a 57 yard touchdown against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the first quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Draft a pass-catching running back

I wrote last week that the Packers should take a running back early in the draft. Without Cobb, I think there is actually a bigger case for Ted Thompson to do just that.

A star receiver leaves and he should be replaced with a running back?

Well, not quite.

This year’s draft features a number of talented running backs. A few of which are incredibly versatile and can line up just about anywhere on offense as a pass-catcher.

Take Miami University’s Duke Johnson as an example …

Johnson is primarily a running back, and he rushed 242 times for 1,652 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Hurricanes in 2014. But he also caught 38 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns.

He can also return kickoffs. Even though he didn’t do so in 2014, he returned 42 kickoffs for 1,288 yards and two touchdowns between 2012 and 2013.

Johnson can line up in the slot, he can line up in the backfield and he has return ability.

Sound familiar?

He may not be as talented a receiver as Cobb, but it certainly gives the Packers a versatile threat on offense. It would also give offensive coordinator Tom Clements extra options with the running game in the way he utilizes a back like Eddie Lacy along with someone like Johnson.

Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah is another talented pass-catcher.

He’s caught 72 passes for 679 yards and seven touchdowns in his past three seasons. While his receiving production isn’t as impressive as Johnson’s, the potential is there.

Like Johnson, Abdullah has great return ability, and has returned 61 kickoffs for 1,592 yards and a touchdown in his four years at Nebraska.

Draft Insider projects both players being chosen in the second round, meaning the Packers would need to draft at the position early.

Despite that, they could be getting a player that shares the versatility they would be missing in Cobb’s departure.

Next: Bolster the receiving corps ...