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Draft analysis: Ranking Ted Thompson's running backs

Apr. 29, 2014
 
Packers running back Eddie Lacy.
Packers running back Eddie Lacy.

It took him several years and multiple tries, but Packers general manager Ted Thompson finally landed a go-to running back in the draft last year when he selected Eddie Lacy in the second round.

Lacy earned NFL offensive rookie of the year honors, broke John Brockingtonís Packers rookie record for yards in a season and appears to be entrenched as a starter for years to come.

But the shelf life of a running back is tenuous at best. Among Thompsonís high picks, second-rounder Brandon Jackson lasted four years, mostly as a reserve, and third-rounder Alex Green lasted just two years.

In four of his nine drafts Thompson didnít take a running back. In 2007 he traded a sixth-round pick to the New York Giants for Ryan Grant, who became the Packersí primary runner for three full seasons.

Itís possible Thompson will ignore the running back position once again this year in the draft, based on the Packersí quality depth at the position.

In the sixth part of a blog series ranking Thompsonís draft picks by position, I assess his crop of running backs, from best to worst.

1-Eddie Lacy, second round, 2013

Thompson traded back and still managed to strike gold by landing Lacy with the 61st overall pick. Claims that Lacy was out of shape and injury prone were wrong, based on his highly productive rookie season.

2-James Starks, sixth round, 2010

He served as an important backup to Lacy last season and the Packers didnít hesitate to re-sign him. Starks has proven to be a significant find for being taken so late. As a rookie Starks emerged as the starter during the Packersí post-season run to a Super Bowl title, but he has endured injury issues and plays best in a secondary role.

3-Brandon Jackson, second round, 2007

He spent most of his career as a reserve but was the Packersí leading rusher in 2010 before getting supplanted as the starter late in the year. He was probably a better pass-blocker than runner. He spent two years in Cleveland after the Packers didnít re-sign him.

4-Korey Hall, sixth round, 2007

He started a total of 26 games at fullback in four seasons with the Packers and was used primarily as a blocker and special teams performer. He showed some pass-catching ability with 21 career receptions, including Aaron Rodgers' first touchdown pass as the Packers' starting quarterback. He played one more season with New Orleans after leaving Green Bay. For someone who played linebacker at Boise State and was drafted 191st overall, he enjoyed a productive NFL career on offense.

5-Quinn Johnson, fifth round, 2009

The big fullback spent two seasons with the Packers and appeared in 20 games with four starts. But he never developed into the road-grading blocker the Packers had envisioned. He started nine games for Tennessee over the past three seasons.

6-Alex Green, third round, 2011

He never fulfilled his potential as the 96th overall pick. His rookie season ended early with a knee injury, then he gained a modest 464 yards in 12 games in his second year.

7-Jonathan Franklin, fourth round, 2013

He showed big-time potential with a 13-carry, 103-yard rushing effort in the second half at Cincinnati early last season. But he rushed just six times for four yards after that before a Week 12 neck injury ended his rookie year. He has the potential to move up the list.

8-DeShawn Wynn, seventh round, 2007

He played in a total of 16 games over three seasons, including four starts as a rookie, but produced just 332 career yards.

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