Second Round: 61st Pick
The year was 1963.
The Vietnam War was in full swing, the United States was establishing zip codes and if you can believe it, it was the last time an NFL Draft did not include a first-round running back.
Without a clear-cut top prospect along the lines of Adrian Peterson or Trent Richardson, many believe the first running back will come off the board on the draft's second day. Eddie Lacy is one of few that will have an opportunity to keep the 50-year first-round streak alive.
The National Championship game's Offensive MVP possesses the size and physicality to punish NFL defenders, but can Lacy carry the load at the next level? Can he be an every-down back and a future star? I will explore these questions and more in this scouting report.
|+ Excellent Balance||- Unrefined pass protector|
|+ Punishing runner with good power||- Limited experience as a receiver|
|+ Ideal Size, 6’0” 220||- Inconsistent decision-making|
|+ Surprisingly nimble and elusive||- Lacks breakaway speed|
If you could draw up the perfect NFL running back, he would probably look very similar to Eddie Lacy. Listed at 6’0" and 220 pounds, Lacy is powerfully built with a thick lower body and strong upper body. More so than perhaps any back in this class, he is built to withstand the punishment of a long NFL season.
Eddie Lacy may not have been blessed with tremendous straight-line speed, but he accelerates well for his size. Additionally, he possesses surprisingly nimble feet. That combination of burst and agility make him more than just a battering ram in the eyes of NFL decision makers.
Love it or hate it, Alabama’s pro-style offense has proven extraordinarily effective over the past five years. The formula is simple: the Crimson Tide win by physically dominating up front and jamming the football down their opponent's throat. The primary vehicle for this domination: rugged inside runners with balance, vision and power.
This past season, we saw a lot of variety in the Tide offense. Eddie Lacy took hand-offs out of single, split, power I and pistol formations over the course of the year.
Strong intangibles may be less essential for a running back prospect than quarterback, but it is still imperative to bring the right type of people into your locker room.
Eddie Lacy has a bit of a goofy personality, but the fun-loving Crimson Tide back shows no alarming signs of immaturity or lack of discipline. He also appears to be well coached with a fairly high football IQ.
Following his NFL career, Lacy has aspirations of following in his uncle’s footsteps to be a fireman.
Though at times I question his decision-making, Eddie Lacy displays the vision to finding small creases and cracks in the defense.
It is important to note that he can be a bit inconsistent in this area. Despite those inconsistencies, however, Lacy shows the ability to navigate traffic and identify cutback lanes.
Additionally, I noticed several occasions in which Lacy displayed tremendous patience. While they are not exactly the same, vision can be a prerequisite for patience, as a running back must first see the defense to compute the appropriate decision.
If there is one way in which sitting behind Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson could have hurt Lacy’s development, it is in the passing game. During his first two years in Tuscaloosa, reps on passing downs were hard to come by.
While he made strides as a junior, Eddie Lacy is not particularly impressive as a receiver or pass-blocker. He appears to catch the ball cleanly and had a career-high 22 receptions this season, but Lacy still lacks polish as a receiver.
As a pass-blocker, his technique must be refined. Though he is very willing to chip defenders, Lacy must follow-up after initial contact more consistently.
Running between the Tackles
A punishing downhill runner, Eddie Lacy is at his best running between the tackles. With a combination of power, vision, patience and balance, he shows the capability to grind out the tough yards and move the chains.
Lacy’s ability to break and elude tackles as well as navigate traffic made him the primary ball-carrier for the Rolling Tide this season. Although not entirely ineffective as an outside runner, his bread and butter is clearly between the tackles.
He is most effective inside where he is able to run behind his pads, hammer defenders and pick up yards after contact. Additionally, Lacy is a reliable short-yardage option who shows the capability to hammer it in on the doorstep.
For a big back, Eddie Lacy’s ability to elude defenders is nothing short of impressive. He is hardly a one-trick pony either, displaying stop-start ability and a quick spin move.
Possessing surprisingly nimble feet and good lateral agility, Lacy is nearly as proficient at avoiding tackles as he is at breaking them. His game may not be based on his ability to make defenders miss, but it is a characteristic that separates him from other backs his size.
Though primarily an inside runner, Lacy remains capable outside. He may not be the fastest to turn the corner, but can put his foot in the ground and explode outside with a head of steam.
When watching Eddie Lacy, one of the first things that you notice is the power he runs with. He excels pushing the pile and breaking tackles, driving his legs on contact and finishing runs.
An old-school power back that tends to wear defenses down late in games, he is both a strong and physical runner. In the National Championship game, it evened seemed like Notre Dame defenders lost interest in tackling him.
When he lowers his shoulders and runs behind his pads, Lacy is one of the toughest backs in this class to bring to the ground. In fact, few college backs I have evaluated do a better job of gaining yards after contact.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Eddie Lacy is one of the few backs in this class that projects as that traditional “bell-cow” back that can carry the load for an offense. While he is not especially adept in the passing game, Lacy possesses every-down potential.
He projects best into a power scheme that emphasizes his balance and rugged style. That said, he is not limited to one particular offensive scheme. Lacy should appeal to any team seeking a back capable of carrying the load and punishing defenses between the tackles.
In a running back class lacking a true top talent along the lines of an Adrian Peterson or Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy could be the first player off the board at his position. Though he is unlikely to fit into the top-20 picks, Lacy projects as a late first to early second-round pick. Teams that look to be particularly ideal fits for the punishing Crimson Tide back include the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons.
Draft Projection: Late First-Early Second Round