GREEN BAY—The hamstring injury that might've dropped Eddie Lacy a round lower than was originally projected for him, didn't discourage the Green Bay Packers from picking him.
"He's a big back. He really hasn't missed any time. I don't think it was any concern," Packers Director of College Scouting Brian Gutekunst said.
Lacy played in a straight-line rushing attack at Alabama, where an offensive line loaded with talent snow-plowed the opposition. It left scouts and draftniks to wonder if Lacy was really as good as his stats, and they looked forward to testing his speed and agility at the combine.
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That's when the Lacy express slowed down. A hamstring injury caused him to miss the combine workouts and, later, his pro day. It wasn't until just before the draft that Lacy was able to work out for scouts.
"One of our scouts was there. It wasn't a concern. It was just part of the process," Gutekunst said.
Clearly, the Packers were willing to believe what they saw on tape. They went with what Lacy did when it counted the most, in the games.
"He catches very well. We felt really good about that," Gutekunst said. "Great lateral quickness. Great ability to drop his pads in the hole. He has an uncanny knack of getting out of trouble for a guy his size. He gives us a little bit of size we haven't had in a while."
Simply put, Lacy gives the Packers something they desperately needed: a pounder. Lacy is the kind of big back a team turns to on short-yardage and goal-line plays and late in the game when it's time to kill the clock. All of that had become an ever-increasing problem for the Packers in recent years.
A rushing attack that has been mired in the second half of the league rankings and had largely become disrespected by opponents, has all of a sudden grown some teeth. Lacy's power immediately does that for the Packers.
Cover two? Maybe not this year. Maybe Lacy will force opponents to bring that eighth defender down into the box.
On a day when the Packers announced having signed quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the richest contract in team history, the selection of Lacy might guarantee the Packers more bang for their buck. Play-action should be much more effective in 2013, and that should help drag opponents out of the two-deep safety look that took away the Packers' deep ball last season.
"We liked Montee Ball a lot," Gutekunst said of the Wisconsin running back that went to Denver just ahead of the Lacy pick. "We had them in the same range. They're different kinds of backs.
"The history of running backs from the SEC is very, very good. They tend to make it."
Ball is a cutback runner. He would've fit nicely with the Packers' zone-blocking scheme. Lacy is a pounder, and the Packers needed that kind of runner because they needed to put some muscle into their offense. They needed to know they could stand toe to toe with teams such as the 49ers. Nobody stood toe to toe with Alabama.