It’s no secret the Green Bay Packers have struggled to find a consistently productive running back ever since Ahman Green left for the Houston Texas in 2007.
The closest they came was Ryan Grant from 2007 to 2009, when he racked up 3,412 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground during that time. But he only lasted for three seasons and isn’t even on a team anymore.
Current Packer James Starks had his run during the 2010 playoffs and had as much to do with the Super Bowl XLV victory as anyone. But his knack for getting injured has reared its ugly head since, as he’s missed nine games since the beginning of last year.
Besides those two, no one has shown any semblance to be a truly productive running back that can keep the Green Bay offense balanced.
Since Ted Thompson loves the draft-and-develop strategy so much, the best place to find the Packers’ future running back would be in the 2013 NFL draft.
And considering the Packers will be drafting in the late first round, their first overall pick should be spent on Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell.
While he’s not a franchise-altering type of back, Bell would be a great value for Green Bay in multiple ways.
First of all, he’s extremely durable. He’s never missed any games in his collegiate career due to injury, and this is his first year accumulating over 200 carries. For a team that seems to be constantly plagued with injuries, especially at the running back position, a back who can consistently stay on the field would be huge for continuity purposes.
Secondly, he’s a huge rusher that can bang out tough yards. At 6’2” and 242 pounds, Bell is much stronger than the average running back. This is especially advantageous for Green Bay, where part of the rushing problem is run blocking, or the lack thereof.
Alex Green is decent at gaining good chunks of yards when running lanes open up, but the Packers offensive line rarely makes that happen. Having someone with Bell’s ability to push piles of defenders back would help mask the line’s problems.
Plus, the Packers desperately lack a true goal-line back. One of the reasons for Aaron Rodgers’ incredible touchdown numbers is because Green Bay doesn’t have a running back that can drive his way into the end zone against 300-plus-pound defensive linemen. Bell can and will do that in the NFL.
Lastly, Bell would be a great option in the passing game. Given how frequently Mike McCarthy likes to pass the ball with Rodgers, a running back like Bell would create even more problems for opposing defensive coordinators.
His behemoth size will make Bell an incredible pass protector in the pros. Usually blitzing defensive linemen can easily plow over tiny running backs standing in their way. That won’t be so easy against a beast like Bell.
In fact, Bell is only four pounds lighter than Green Bay’s top pass-rusher Clay Matthews and five pounds lighter than the Dallas Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware. He’ll be one tough guy to push around.
He’s also an accomplished route-runner. He actually has lined up out wide and in the slot multiple times for Michigan State as a receiver. A back that can come out of the backfield and make plays through the air would be a great asset that Rodgers has yet to experience.
Thompson should seriously consider taking Bell with his first overall pick next year. Right now he’s rated as the 65th-best prospect by ESPN, so Thompson might even get to trade back and collect some more picks before selecting him.
Bell may not turn out to be an Adrian Peterson or a Maurice Jones-Drew type, but his game would be the perfect final piece of Green Bay’s offensive puzzle.
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