Were the Falcons heavily planning for only James White, out of Patriot running backs? No. Only LeGarrette Blount? No. Dion Lewis? You get the point. In this cap-restrained era of football, one that is more soaked in the development of talent than it is in the prospect of free agency, dynasties aren’t constructed haphazardly.
Before the season began, many pundits had this same Patriot team playing against the Packers on Feb, 5, 2017 in NRG Stadium. One reason the Packers were hard-pressed against the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons had to deal the offensive imbalance. The Green and Gold had to abandon the run game early, yielding 17 carries amongst five players. The negligible part about that game was Aaron Rodgers leading the team with 46 yards on the ground.
Ty Montgomery will look to control the running back position from here on out, but it’s obvious that he can’t do it alone. Eddie Lacy’s contract is officially up, and so is Christine Micheal’s. Meanwhile, James Starks was cut last week by way of a non-football injury designation. All this culminates in the Packers itching to reload their talent in the backfield.
If, say, the Packers are to re-sign Lacy, this hypothetical game of being big players won’t be fun. However, because of his inability to find open holes, lack of athleticism and injury history, there’s good reason to avoid pitching money to the 2013 second-rounder Lacy.
Barring any draft trade, Green Bay can assume that all backs not named Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook will be available by the time the 29th pick rolls around. Here are five names the team could look to, in order to recharge the position.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
A backfield threat who mimics a Swiss Army Knife? Yes, please. If the Packers were to draft the former Heisman finalist, future opponents would start getting headaches by the time Roger Goodell announced the selection. Imagine the Packers nonchalantly swapping Randall Cobb with Ty Montgomery, only to replace Montgomery with the former Stanford running back.
McCaffrey can receive, turn up field in a breath, and, once he’s there, he can utilize his cataclysmic juke. He’s a skilled player, in that you wouldn’t mind seeing him run horizontally every now and then. Hypothetically, the Packers would redefine the running back position with Montgomery, McCaffrey, as well as with Cobb, who doesn’t mind making an occasional appearance behind Aaron Rodgers.
Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
Although he only started in eight games as a Volunteer, Kamara performed the agile, stop-on-a-dime ballet that is reminiscent of Jamaal Charles. He has great balance as a runner, but he can also scamper out of the backfield as a receiver – he amassed nearly 400 yards on 40 catches, as a redshirt junior. He has enough freshness in his legs to serve as the perfect complement to Montgomery.
D’Onta Foreman, Texas
Unlike most of the other backs on this list, Foreman doesn’t mind bulldozing any breathing defender in his way. The Doak Walker award-winner won’t be outrunning too many cornerbacks at the next level, but he could be an invaluable runner for his team when they’re ahead, in which case would allow the Packers to rest Montgomery while having a capable finisher. Foreman possesses great size and strength, but his blocking has been a question mark, given the lack of passing packages he was in at Texas. Though the Eddie Lacy comparison may be unfair, Foreman will likely have to slim down before he plays professionally.
Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
Perhaps the biggest hybrid out of this year’s draft, Samuel doesn’t need to prove his rushing and receiving chops. In 2016, the successor to Ezekiel Elliot at OSU averaged 9.6 yards from scrimmage. Additionally, Samuel had 771 yards on the ground and 865 yards through the air, all of which tallied 15 scores. In theory, Mike McCarthy could put him either in the slot or on outside, given the undeniable separation that Samuel’s game presents.
Brian Hill, Wyoming
If the Pack decide that the necessity of a defensive back trumps that of a running back, Brian Hill could be a realistic option in the third or fourth round. Trying to tackle Hill is the equivalent of pulling teeth without an anesthetic, as the 219-pound back tends to outmuscle his competition. He’s not much of a receiving back, which, if the Packers were to draft him, is where Montgomery would take over. In the worst case, Hill could be safe-value backup, because he rarely fumbles, he can block, and he keeps his legs in motion. Hill would be a gift for any team in need of a backup running back.