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Position Analysis: Running Backs

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Last month, I meant to go through the roster and write an analysis of the team by position, but I got distracted by a Top 10 list and never finished it up. Mitchell started with the o-line, and then I ran through the defense by d-line, linebackers, and finally the secondary.

So now I'm getting back to it and I'll start with the running backs and the fullbacks.

Running Backs:

1. RB Ryan Grant. Here's what I wrote about him last month:

Grant is the guy. As a team the Packers only had 437 carries in 2008, and 312 of them went to Grant. He's the big back that Mike McCarthy prefers, and the other two big backs on the roster (RB DeShawn Wynn and RB Kregg Lumpkin) combined for only 9 carries last season.

The run offense will live or die with him in 2009. He's No. 1 and there appear to be people on the coaching staff and/or the front office that insisted on starting him ahead of RB Brandon Jackson although Jackson outplayed him. Grant showed great vision in 2007 and once he got some separation past 5 yards, he would turn a lot of good runs into big gains. But all that vanished in 2008 as he struggled to break away from the crowd around the line of scrimmage. Hopefully he returns to his 2007 form in 2009.

2. RB Brandon Jackson. As I mentioned above, he outplayed Grant last season but still never got anything more than garbage time. He showed signs of becoming an explosive receiver during the 2007 preseason, but he hasn't shown it since. He's not an exceptional runner, but he seems to have mastered running in a the zone blocking system which that turned a bunch of unknown Denver running backs into 1,000 yard performers; take one cut and go, and then keep your shoulders down.

3. RB DeShawn Wynn. Why is he at number 3? Because he started some games in 2007, so he's got more experience than the last two on the list. His running style seems to be to run straight ahead as fast as he can. That's not the worst idea for a physically talented, 5'10" 238 lb. back. If Grant got hurt and missed time in 2009, I wouldn't be surprised if Wynn gets the starting nod over Jackson because Mike McCarthy prefers to start big running backs.

4. RB Kregg Lumpkin. He was a prized college recruit at Georgia who never lived up to the hype, went undrafted, but then managed to earn a spot on the Packers. He showed some promise in training camp, but then was out injured for the season by week 2. I'm still not sure what he can do.

5. RB Tyrell Sutton. I was really impressed with him during his incredible freshman season at Northwestern, but injuries derailed the rest of his promising college career. It wasn't surprising that the little back went undrafted, but it was a surprise that the Packers showed interest in him. I guess they need a Plan B for a 3rd down back if something happens to Jackson, so it might as well be Sutton. I'm looking forward to see what he can do in the preseason.

Fullbacks:

1. FB Korey Hall. He played well as a rookie, providing some solid blocking and the occasional short yardage reception. But in 2008, he struggled as injuries kept him out of action periodically. He's probably the starter, but with a lot to prove in 2009.

2. FB Quinn Johnson. If Hall loses his starting job in 2009, I would expect it's because Johnson forces him to the bench. The scouting reports varied on him, some said he was a powerful blocker and some said he wasn't. Obviously the Packers' scouts saw something and they used a 5th round pick to acquire him. I have no idea what they really have in him and I'll just be waiting to see him during the preseason.

3. FB John Kuhn. I'm surprised he's still on the team. He made a number of free agent visits this spring to other teams, but he didn't receive any offers. He's been solid, but unspectacular, in two seasons in Green Bay and seems like the odd man out.