Alabama running back Eddie Lacy fell a bit further in the 2013 NFL draft than most observers expected, as he wasn't selected until pick No. 62 in the second round, but there is no doubt that he landed in an ideal situation with the Green Bay Packers.
It has become commonplace for Alabama running backs to be taken early in the draft in recent years, as Trent Richardson was a first-round pick in 2012 and Mark Ingram went in the first round one year earlier. There was some discussion regarding Lacy being a potential first-rounder, but teams ultimately passed, as no backs were selected in the first round for the first time in 50 years.
Several teams were in need of backs, however, so it was unlikely that he would have had to wait long in the second round. Surprisingly, three running backs went ahead of him in the form of North Carolina's Giovani Bernard, Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell and Wisconsin's Montee Ball.
Lacy fell into the Packers' laps, and both sides should be ecstatic.
The Packers have not run the ball effectively over the past couple seasons, but that has had more to do with poor personnel rather than poor offensive game plans. Head coach Mike McCarthy has leaned heavily on quarterback Aaron Rodgers; however, there is no doubt that he would love to run the ball more in order to keep opposing defenses honest.
Aside from Lacy, the Packers currently have a random conglomeration of running backs on their roster. That includes veterans Cedric Benson and Ryan Grant as well as younger guys such as James Starks, Alex Green and DuJuan Harris. While Harris showed some flashes during the playoffs last season, he doesn't appear to be a long-term answer in the backfield.
Lacy, on the other hand, has all the tools necessary to be a star at the NFL level. He didn't become a starter until this past season due to the presence of guys like Richardson and Ingram, but he proved to be just as productive in 2012. Lacy rushed for over 1,300 yards and scored 19 total touchdowns while playing in the toughest conference in college football.
While Lacy doesn't have top-end speed, as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds at Alabama's pro day, he is shifty and capable of breaking arm tackles thanks to his stout, 5'11", 231-pound frame. The Packers need a tough runner who can grind it out in short-yardage situations, and Lacy definitely gives them that.
The great thing for Lacy is that a running back doesn't have to be drafted in the first round in order to be a huge contributor right away.
The NFL is a passing league, so there isn't as much emphasis on taking backs early, but there are still crucially important. Late-round picks and undrafted free agents routinely play important roles early in their careers, so Lacy is definitely in a position to play from day one.
How will Lacy fare at the NFL level?
Alfred Morris was an absolute star for the Washington Redskins last season, and he was a sixth-round selection. The Packers are married to Lacy more than the Redskins were to Morris, so look for Lacy to seize the starting job. He has a lot of competition to beat out, but he is clearly the most talented back that Green Bay has already.
With defenses so focused on stopping Rodgers and the Packers' passing attack, there should be plenty of running room for Lacy. He did some special things at Alabama and is in perfect position to continue that in the NFL.
While Lacy may have initially been disappointed that he wasn't taken in the first round or in the early part of the second, he couldn't have possibly ended up in a better situation.
The Packers are a great offensive team with a major need at running back, and Lacy should be able to be a huge part of the team in 2013 and beyond.
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