Friday, July 12, 2013

Position Review: Running Backs

This should be one of the most talked about positions since the Green Bay Packers completely shook up the roster. Gone are veteran starters Ryan Grant and Cedric Benson while three rookies have been added.

Position Review: Offensive Line Guards and Tackles
Position Review: Offensive Line-Center
Position Review: Wide Receivers
Position Review: Quarterback

It's not clear who will be the starter. The rookies might be ready to grab the ball and run, but they're probably not up to speed with the overall playbook and pass blocking, which might give the returning veterans an advantage for the first few weeks of the season. It would be a surprise if the Packers kept more than three running backs, so a couple of once promising players might not be with the team much longer.

DuJuan Harris. He might seem like the player with the least upside, but he finished 2012 as the starter and every player and coach seems to rave about him. He was productive last season in six games, rushing for 4.6 ypc during the regular season and four touchdowns (two in the playoffs). He might be the best bet to start the season.

Eddie Lacy. He's the player I want to see on the field, but he comes with legitimate injury risks and not a lot of college experience. He might need some time to get ready (and healthy) for the NFL.

Johnathan Franklin. He was talked about as a potential 2nd round pick, so I was surprised he was still available later (and apparently the Packers were too because they traded up in the 4th round to select him). He's lighter (205 lbs.) than Lacy and might be more of a complementary back but his speed score was solid and it could be a sign that he should hold up just fine as the primary rusher.

Alex Green. Maybe he should be higher on the list now that he's another year removed from his torn ACL, but he didn't impress last season and I don't see how he fits with the Packers anymore. Supposedly, he's at the top of the depth chart, but that June ranking means nothing if he's only averaging a couple yards per carry during the preseason. I thought he could be a trade candidate, but the team seems to be giving him the chance to start, so he'll stay if he runs well. If he flops during the preseason, I doubt the Packers will make room for him or be able to find anything in trade.

James Starks. He came into the NFL after a lost college season due to injury, and he hasn't been able to stay healthy as a pro either. Also, he didn't impress last season when healthy (3.6 ypc, one carry of greater than 20 yards). I doubt he has any trade value, but a strong preseason might encourage another team to take a chance on him as a free agent.

Angelo Pease. Despite playing on Kansas State's high powered offense, he wasn't much of a factor in college (333 rushing yards in 2012). McCarthy likes what he's seen, but Pease's 4.59 40 time is a little slow for a back his size (5-10, 211 lbs.). He might have a better chance of staying due to his eligibility for the practice squad, but the Packers might not need him if they have three other backs on the 53-man roster.

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