Green Bay Packers 2016 Draft prospect: Interview with Illinois running back Josh Ferguson

Illinois Fighting Illini running back Josh Ferguson (6). Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Illinois Fighting Illini running back Josh Ferguson (6). Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Today, we continue our Green Bay Packers draft prospect interview series by hearing from 2016 prospect and former Illinois running back Josh Ferguson.

As a former All-Big Ten running back, Ferguson not only led the Fighting Illini in rushing and all-purpose yards for four straight seasons (2012-2015), he also leaves Illinois second all-time in all-purpose yards with a whopping 4,474 yards from scrimmage.

What’s enticing about Ferguson as a running back prospect in the NFL is he’s not only a shifty, effective runner in the backfield, but he’s also one the better receiver halfbacks coming out of college–if not the best in this area in the 2016 draft class.

At Illinois, Ferguson set school records in career receptions by a running back with 168 and receiving yards by a running back with 1,507 yards. Ferguson’s ability to be a dual-threat option out of the backfield makes him a valuable prospect for any team looking to add another weapon on offense.

Regarded by many draft analysts and scouts as a mid-round pick, Ferguson could be a legitimate option for the Packers in the NFL Draft. The Packers could use a versatile halfback to bring a new dynamic to their offense going into next season.

Considering Ferguson’s potential fit with Green Bay, I recently reached out to the Illinois native to hear from him about his game and where he feels he fits in the NFL.

Ferguson was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions. Here is what he had to say about what he brings to an offense, who he emulates his game after, and how he feels his style of running would complement Eddie Lacy and the Packers backfield.

Josh Ferguson Q&A

Illinois Fighting Illini running back Josh Ferguson (6). Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Illinois Fighting Illini running back Josh Ferguson (6). Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Q. You did a lot of good things down in Florida for the East-West Shrine Game. How was that experience for you?

Ferguson: It was awesome to be invited to such a week. I think the coolest thing about it was the opportunity to showcase my talents right before the eyes of scouts from all 32 teams and against guys from all over the country.

Q. What do you feel you were able to show everyone about your game? Did you have anything specific you wanted to prove going into the week?

Ferguson: Heading into the week, I just wanted to put on display some of the things I was able to do at Illinois. From making wise cuts to catching the ball and making plays. I was pleased to have the opportunity to do some of those things.

Q. You had a very impressive career at Illinois, and I know many think highly of you coming out of college. How do you see yourself as a prospect? What are your strengths as a running back? 

Ferguson: I see myself as a playmaker. A guy that is ready and willing to do whatever it may be to win. That’s my only desire and the reason I play this game–to win. That mentality does a lot for me and the others around me.

Q. In college, you made a major impact in both the running and passing game. Would you consider yourself a dual-threat running back? 

Ferguson: I believe that it is imperative for a running back in today’s game to be able to do more than just run. I’m truly blessed to have had the great coaches along the way that helped me develop in the aforementioned way.

Q. What do you feel is the most underrated aspect of your game?

Ferguson: I believe in the years to come many will see that there’s even more ability here to run and catch. In many ways I feel that my skills are just at the tip of the iceberg in development and I am more than eager to work myself to its peak.

Q. Are there any NFL players (past or present) you watch, model your game after, or feel you draw comparisons to?

Illinois Fighting Illini running back Josh Ferguson (6) is tackled by Northwestern Wildcats cornerback Matthew Harris (27). Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Illinois Fighting Illini running back Josh Ferguson (6) is tackled by Northwestern Wildcats cornerback Matthew Harris (27). Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Ferguson: I grew up watching a lot of film on guys like Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders and Warrick Dunn. Those were all great backs I tried to emulate from a very early age.

Q. The Green Bay Packers may look to the draft this spring to improve their backfield, and we feel you’re a guy they could seriously consider. If they drafted you, how would you feel about playing for a team like the Packers and for a city like Green Bay?

Ferguson: It would be a tremendous opportunity to rub shoulders with a championship team like the Packers!

Q. The Packers do have Eddie Lacy, but also like to split carries between several running backs throughout the season. How do you think your style of running would complement Lacy’s? 

Ferguson: I think I would be able to complement Lacy’s running style in a lot of ways, on different downs and in different situations. With his thundering running style, I’d hope to bring a bit of lighting to the offense.

Q. How do you think it would benefit you to play with a former MVP quarterback like Aaron Rodgers and behind one of the better starting offensive lines in the NFL?

Ferguson: It would truly be a dream come true.

Q. Regardless of who drafts you, what will that moment mean to you when you finally hear your name called and you’re officially in the NFL?

Ferguson: It has taken so much to get to this point. Many hours spent beating the craft and many sacrifices have been made, both personally and amongst my family members. It will be a moment I will never forget.

Q. Tells us a little bit about yourself before we let you go. How did you first get into playing football and who has been the most instrumental in helping you reach this point?

Ferguson: Football was always on TV in my home growing up, like most sports. The desire grew from there. I remember asking my parents to play in third grade and I guess the rest is history. My dad trained me all the way through high school.

Q. Finally, when you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time? Any favorite hobbies?

Ferguson: I’m a pretty simple, laid-back guy outside of football. I enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Next: NFL three-round mock draft

Game Highlights:

Check out previous Prospect Q&As:

Kenny Clark, NT, UCLA
James Cowser, DE, Southern Utah
Juston Burris, CB, NC State
Luke Rhodes, LB, William & Mary
Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State
Kevin Byard, SS, Middle Tennessee State
Devon Cajuste, WR, Stanford
Joe Schobert, OLB, Wisconsin