After two seasons spent backing up Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson at Alabama, Eddie Lacy stepped into the spotlight in 2012—most notably in the BCS Championship Game, where he ran over and spun around Notre Dame defenders en route to a national title. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry behind a series of NFL-caliber offensive linemen and was widely expected to be the first running back selected in the 2012 draft class.
Lacy’s physical gifts certainly support those expectations. He is a powerful runner capable of picking up tough yards and pushing the pile, rarely going down on first contact and finishing runs by inflicting punishment on would-be tacklers. But more than just a bruiser, Lacy is shifty with quick feet and a spin move straight out of a video game—though at times he relied too much on the move. Lacy doesn’t have elite speed, but he is deceptively fast in the open field. He also demonstrated ability in the passing game, a willing if occasionally inconsistent pass protector who had good success in the screen game at Alabama.
How could such a specimen fall into Round 2? Lacy’s drop was due almost entirely to durability concerns. While there is a litany of bumps and bruises stemming all the way back to his high school days, and while Lacy didn’t work out at the combine due to left knee, right pectoral, and hamstring issues, it’s a turf toe injury and subsequent surgery that really scared teams away. A sluggish 40 at his post-Combine personal workout, at which he appeared out of shape as well, didn’t help matters.
The range of NFL comparisons for Lacy is wide: the more positive accent similarities between his game and that of Adrian Peterson (power running, unusual quickness for his size); the more negative harken back to LenDale White, another seemingly brutish yet somewhat fragile runner. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, a range that includes Michael Bush and Alfred Morris. Going to Green Bay means a downgrade in offensive line play, at least when it comes to power run blocking, and the jury is out as to how adept Lacy is at creating his own holes. He also won’t see the volume of touches Peterson or Morris typically see, as Green Bay is first and foremost a passing team. Just like NFL teams on Draft Day, fantasy owners have multiple questions to answer about Lacy: Can he beat out fellow rookie Jonathan Franklin for the lead role in Green Bay’s backfield committee? Can he capitalize on defenses focused on Aaron Rodgers to find success on the ground? Or will the turf toe or other injuries sap Lacy of his power and burst and leave his NFL legacy unfulfilled a la LenDale?