The running back has taken a backseat in the NFL thanks the the evolution of the pass-happy teams and elite quarterbacks taking the reigns. There are a select few elite running backs in the NFL that still make the position semi-relevant such as Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson and Darren McFadden.
If you notice one thing with the major running backs, their teams lack an elite QB. Peterson has second year QB Christian Ponder, McFadden has Carson Palmer, and Steven Jackson has Sam Bradford, who could become elite, but is not quite their.
The top QB's in the NFL have serviceable yet non-spectacular backs behind them. Aaron Rodgers has James Starks, who seems to be a playoff wonder, Tom Brady has virtually no one and Drew Brees has Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas.
Teams with top notch quarterbacks are less likely to need an every down back due to the fact that they do not want to take the ball out of their play-makers hand. A statement which I do not agree with.
In this article, I will give you three reasons why the Packers would hit a new gear with an elite running back.
Reason #1- Pass Protection
Let me say this off the top, running backs do not need to be elite to be a good pass protector. However, with an elite back, not only can they stay on the field for running plays, they also stay on the for pass plays. This adds to the deception of whether the the back is in there to protect or chew up some ground.
Reason #2- Valuable Short Yardage Situations
How many times have you been frustrated by the Packers shooting for a home run play on 3rd and 1? I've sat by the television watching Mike McCarthy dial up a deep pass play on short yardage. With an elite bruising running back, not only could the Packers run up the middle on short yardage downs, they could throw a sneaky slip screen that gets the back in space and he'd be able to make something happen.
Reason #3- Making Aaron Rodgers Even Better Than He Already Is
This may seem like an oddity but think about it. If the defenses are not only worried about an Aaron Rodgers, but also a home run hitting running back, what could that do to opposing defenses? If you have a back that can carry the load and hit a big play or two, a simple play-action play could give Rodgers all the freedom in the world.
I am sure every Packer fan saw the Giants game. When they know that Rodgers is the only threat, they can sit back in man coverage and lock down the receivers. If you got an elite back, that causes the corners to play a little closer to the box and free up Jennings, Nelson and Finley to get behind the defenses.
In every mock draft that has the Packers selecting a running back high in the draft, the first comment I usually see is, "the Packers do not need a running back, we don't want to take the ball out of Rodgers hands." I fully disagree that a running back would hurt Rodgers, on the contrary, it will help him immensely.
If you have a running back that can hit a big play or two, it would only open up the field more for Aaron Rodgers.
3 plausible Packers draft options capable of being elite in the NFL: (Impossible to Predict)
Boise State Running Back Doug Martin (Late 1st- Early 2nd)
Washington Running Back Chris Polk (Middle- Late 2nd)
Kansas State Running Back Bryce Brown (Late or Undrafted)