The Packers have been looked at as a passing team for most of the past three decades, which makes sense when you consider the starting quarterback play for most of that time period was by Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. That being said, Green Bay finished 25th in the NFL in passing in 2015 while finishing 12th in running. This isn’t to say the running game was improved, 12th is the team’s lowest finished since 2012, but in a year that the offense struggled, the running game remained fairly consistent. Heading into 2016, the Packers offense, and especially the passing game, looks to rebound. Solid performances by the backfield could allow that to happen. Without further ado, let’s look at the depth chart for the Packers at running back.
- Eddie Lacy
Unquestionably the top running back in Green Bay, Lacy has been a gound and pound force in the run game since entering the league in 2013. However, if you’re a Packer fan and you haven’t heard of Lacy’s struggles on the field and with weight since the beginning of last season, you must be living under a rock. He turned in career worst numbers in every single rushing category last season (attempts, yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, fumbles, fumbles lost, first downs, etc.). Not exactly encouraging. Two major reasons for the drop in numbers were weight, as you all know, and punishment by the coaching staff. Being overweight slowed the lumbering back down and took away some of his power, while also reducing his stamina, none of which helps a back get extra reps. On top of that, he missed curfew a few times, leading to a reduction in snaps those weeks. He had never played a full game and run the ball less than 10 times, but he did so four times last year. Had he been given as many touches as in the past, he could’ve turned in another 1,000 yard year. Now that he’s lost a reported 20 pounds in the offseason and is in a contract year with something to prove (playing with light pockets, as Deion Sanders would say), he should be expected to have a bounce-back season in 2016.
- James Starks
Starks was on the field more than Eddie Lacy in 2015, seeing 528 snaps compared to Lacy’s 471. That being said, he’s clearly option No. 2, though he shouldn’t be considered a backup. He had nearly a thousand all-purpose yards last year (993 yards rushing and receiving combined) and he scored five times, unquestionably his best season as a pro. He’s a change of pace option for Green Bay and one of the best No. 2 running backs in all of the NFL.
- John Crockett
Crockett won the third and final running back spot on the roster last season, though only saw the field on offense for two games and a total of 16 snaps his rookie season. He’s the favorite to make the roster once again, but, barring injury, it would be a complete shock if he has more than a miniscule role in the offense this season.
- Brandon Burks
An undrafted rookie out of Troy, Burks has an outside shot at the roster if he can out play John Crockett, but in all likelihood is just playing for a practice squad spot. At 5-foot-8, 210 pounds, he has a small frame and possesses deceptive quickness and agility. He’s built in the mold of former pro-bowler Ray Rice, but without the same power. If he can add strength he could become a contributor to the team in the years to come.
- Brandon Ross
The second of the undrafted rookie backs, this one from Maryland, Ross brings up the tail end of the depth chart. He’s the fastest back on the team in terms of straight line speed, running a 4.44 40-yard dash. He’s simply not a very explosive back and he lacks the side-to-side quickness of the players ahead of him. In two preseason games so far he’s got a grand total of 13 rushing yards on 11 carries. He’s a long-shot to make the practice squad.