NFL Combine 2013: Injury Will Not Push Eddie Lacy out of the First Round
Even still, the injury and resulting combine absence will not push Lacy out of the first round.
Injuries are always a concern for scouts, even if Lacy is a 6'1" and 220 pound monster. With that being said, Lacy is widely believed to be the top running back in this draft class.
According to Marc Sessler of NFL.com, draft expert Mike Mayock referred to Lacy as the only running back likely to go in the first round.
Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN Insider (subscription required) offers a similar sentiment, as he lists Lacy as his top running back. Kiper is, however, straying on the side of caution by stating that the combine "is huge."
As for Todd McShay of ESPN Insider (subscription required), he has Lacy coming off of the board first amongst running backs in his latest mock draft. For those wondering, McShay has the Cincinnati Bengals selecting the pummeling ball carrier at 21st overall.
So why wouldn't this injury change any of that?
McShay doesn't have a single running back outside of Lacy going in the first round. Kiper Jr. tells the same story with his latest mock draft.
As for Mayock, he's already made his opinion known on the matter—no running backs outside of Lacy are first round material.
Comparing the Field
KenJon Barner of Oregon is a phenomenal playmaker and an absolute terror in the open field. With great hands and beautiful field vision, Barner accounted for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground in 2012-13.
With that being said, Barner is also 5'11" and 195 pounds—he may be a promising prospect, but he's not of your traditional first round build.
Giovani Bernard of North Carolina is as versatile a running back as you'll find in this draft class. He picked up 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, as well as 47 receptions for 490 yards and five touchdowns through the air this past seasons for the Tar Heels.
Kiper Jr. speculates that Bernard will not go in the first round—at 5'10" and 205 pounds, size could be an issue.
Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina is a superstar talent whom the world is well-aware of. The problem is that Lattimore is coming off of surgery on a severe knee injury (via Yahoo! Sports).
For those who fail to remember, Lattimore suffered a knee injury the season prior, as well—a torn ACL (via ESPN).
That leaves just one running back between Lacy and the first round: Wisconsin's Montee Ball. Ball is a former Heisman finalist and the reigning Doak Walker award winner.
In other words, every top prospect has their weakness—injuries included.
Injuries Even Out, NFL Readiness Does Not
With the previously acknowledged factors taken into account, Eddy Lacy suffering a small tear in his hamstring is of no concern. After all, that is the least severe injury of any player previously listed.
It now comes down to whom scouts believe is the most NFL ready.
In 2012-13, Cleveland Browns rookie Trent Richardson ran for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns. The latter number ranked fifth in the NFL.
That is important to note due to the fact that Richardson is an Alabama alum—just like Lacy.
Whether or not Lacy is able to reach Richardson's level of production is a conversation for another day. The fact of the matter is that Alabama is known for breeding NFL prospects and Lacy is one of the best of this year's crop.
Richardson's rookie season to remember is just one reason that scouts could be intrigued.
With Kiper Jr., McShay and Mayock all agreeing on Lacy being the lone first round running back, one has to believe that a monster combine performance from someone else would be needed to change that. This is hardly an impossibility, as there are only two things we know in this NFL life.
For one, anything could happen at the combine. For the other, Lacy is not falling out of the first round.
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