DuJuan Harris averaged 4.6 yards per carry in limited regular-season work after being promoted from the practice squad on Dec. 1. File/Gannett Wisconsin Media
Once again this year, Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky will provide a pre-draft breakdown of the Packers’ roster at each position heading into the April 25-27 NFL draft.
Here’s the position schedule:
April 10: Defensive line
April 11: Linebackers
April 12: Defensive backs
April 13: Offensive line
Today: Running backs
April 15: Receivers
April 16: Tight ends
April 17: Quarterbacks
April 18: Special teams
What they have: DuJuan Harris, Alex Green, James Starks, Brandon Saine, John Kuhn.
Position analysis: The revolving door at running back last season stopped with DuJuan Harris, who became the lead back in the playoffs and enters the offseason as perhaps the No. 1 guy. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry in limited regular-season work after being promoted from the practice squad on Dec. 1. In 28 playoff carries, he gained 100 yards. At 5-foot-8 and 203 pounds, he might be too small to be an every-down back, but he’s quick through the hole. Said coach Mike McCarthy recently: “I wish we would have had DuJuan earlier. He was a young man that we were just getting ready to try to put in the game. Everybody’s like ‘just put him in there.’ Well, hell, you put him in there, there aren’t too many runs in our offense where we can’t go to a pass, and now he’s protecting for Aaron Rodgers. That’s why there’s a lot of stress schematically and responsibility wise on our running backs, and that’s not going to change because of our quarterback. Once he got ready, I felt great about the way DuJuan finished the season. Looking forward to having him for an offseason and look for good things for him.” McCarthy indicated Harris would get a crack at the starting job but also would like to use a combination of backs, although not the degree in which injuries forced him to use five different backs – Harris, Cedric Benson, Alex Green, James Starks and Ryan Grant – last season. Said McCarthy: “It’s tough on your run blocking unit when you’ve got a different running back all the time. Not that we’re just going to try to stay with one but you’d like to get into a one-two punch deal and maybe get some more rhythm and let guys build of last week’s performance and adjust to how the defense is playing week in and week out based on what you did the week before.”
The future: The Packers may be running out of patience with the oft-injured Starks, who played just six games last year. Green wasn’t fully recovered from his 2011 knee injury. Benson and Grant haven’t been re-signed. That could mean the Packers will consider a running back high in the draft, although they haven’t taken one in the first round since Darrell Thompson in 1990. If Alabama’s Eddie Lacy or Wisconsin’s Montee Ball are on the board when the Packers pick at No. 26, perhaps they change that. More likely, they’ll take a back in the later rounds. Perhaps they’ll consider the talented South Carolina back Marcus Lattimore, who is trying to come back from a serious knee injury.