Breaking Down Why the Denver Broncos Should Draft Alabama RB Eddie Lacy

Jon Heath@http://twitter.com/JonHeathNFLContributor IFebruary 28, 2013

GAINESVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 01: Eddie Lacy #42 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs for yardarge during a game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

During the 2012 regular season, the Denver Broncos rushed for 12 touchdowns as a team.  Over at Alabama, Crimson Tide running back Eddie Lacy rushed for 17 touchdowns himself.

Those two should consider getting together.

Denver's Willis McGahee (set to turn 32 in October), started the season as the team's starter before a knee injury forced the Broncos to place him on the injured reserve list in November.  Before the injury, McGahee was averaging a respectable 4.4 yards per carry average, but also fumbled five times.

McGahee's career appears to be on the decline, as he has fumbled nine times in his last 23 starts in Denver, with some of the fumbles arguably costing the Broncos several victories.  The back that replaced McGahee in 2012, Knowshon Moreno (25), is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

Neither McGahee nor Moreno is guaranteed to be brought back by the Broncos this offseason, which could leave second-year scatback Ronnie Hillman, a 5'9", 185-pound San Diego State product, as the only RB left on the roster.  A small, young RB, Hillman is not yet ready to carry the load for Denver.

Alabama's Eddie Lacy fits the bill.

At the combine, Lacy measured in at 5'11" and 231 pounds—just the size the Broncos are looking for.  Neither McGahee nor Moreno proved to be effective short-yardage options for Denver last season and Hillman is not going to run anybody over any time soon.

Meanwhile, Lacy has the power to run over defenders, the shiftiness to squeeze through small holes and a deadly spin move, which was popularized in Alabama's 42-14 victory over Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game earlier this year.

In the play above, Lacy alludes a defender before finding a hole in Notre Dame's defense with some fancy footwork below.  

Lacy would fit Denver's offense well, as the Broncos' favorite offensive set is a 3-WR, 1-RB look, something Lacy is already familiar with from his days at 'Bama.

In addition to his powerful running style, Lacy is also a reliable receiving threat out of the backfield (he caught 22 passes for 189 yards and two scores last season) and is a shotgun-friendly RB—protecting the quarterback is one of his many skill sets.

Last season, Denver's offense was built around quarterback Peyton Manning, who was named the Comeback Player of the Year following the regular season.  On the season, Manning accounted for 37 of Denver's 57 touchdowns and 4,534 of Denver's 6,366 offensive yards.

Peyton is a future Hall of Famer, but no one player should be asked to carry an entire offense, especially at the age of 37 (Manning will turn 37 on March 24).  Peyton needs a Terrell Davis.

Denver's executive vice president of football operations, John Elway, should know that better than anyone.  In 1998, at age 38, Elway threw for 2,806 yards and 22 touchdowns while Davis rushed for 2,008 yards and 21 scores, helping the Broncos to get to—and win—the Super Bowl.

Elway made Denver's offense potent through the air, but Davis' rushing ability made it deadly.  Lacy would give the Broncos a more balanced offensive attack, giving Denver a reliable attack both through the air and on the ground.

All of this, of course, assumes that Lacy will be available when the Broncos are on the clock in the first round.  If Lacy does not fall to No. 28, there's always Leon Sandcastle.