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First, it was Marcus Lattimore who was slated to be the consensus No. 1 running back in the 2013 NFL draft. But another unfortunate knee injury and questions about his durability have led to a dramatic drop down the draft board.
Then it was Eddie Lacy who was pegged as the top running back in the draft after a stellar BCS National Championship Game performance. However, Lacy was unable to participate in the combine due to a hamstring injury (via NFL.com).
While Lacy gave it a go at Alabama's "second" pro day, he was less than impressive. CBS Sports filed the following report about his performance:
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy ran slow and had a hard time holding up during his Pro Day workout. Lacy reportedly ran 40-yard dash times between 4.57 and 4.60 and seemed out of shape. He had been battling a hamstring tear that kept him out of the combine in February.
This equated to what NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks had to say in a series of tweets immediately following the event.
Disappointed in stamina and conditioning. Stopped twice during workout to catch breath. Didn't give maximum effort in drills. No finish.
Coaches cut the workout short due to his struggles. Only asked Lacy to do 3-4 cone drills, them spent the rest of day catching passes.
Scout and coaches left with questions about Lacy's work ethic and preparation habits. Some wondered why he wasn't ready for his big day.
That's alarming for several reasons.
First, you would expect Lacy to be ready and prepared for his only postseason workout prior to the draft. Second, whenever work ethic is brought up as a negative, you pay attention.
With solid postseason performances by Giovani Bernard, Stepfan Taylor, Le'Veon Bell and Johnathan Franklin, it appears that Lacy's stranglehold on being the No. 1 running back off the board might be loosening.
As it is, teams just don't value running backs high in the draft anymore. While Trent Richardson, Doug Martin and David Wilson all went in the first round last season, this year's class doesn't seem to be as top-heavy.
If you look at the first-round order, we could look at a first day of the draft without a running back coming off the board.
Let's just assume that no running back, Lacy included, goes in the initial half of the first round. This would seem to indicate that the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and St. Louis Rams are the three likeliest landing spots for Lacy. However, they appear to have more pressing needs and could go in another direction.
While Lacy likely is still going to be the first running back off the board, he might have to wait until the Bengals, Cardinals or Jets select at the top of the second round.