In the second installment of our Post-Draft Roster Breakdown series, we have decided to assess where the Green Bay Packers stand at running back. We try to project the depth chart at running back at this time and review each player's overall chances at making the roster.
Eddie Lacy, HB
If he can stay healthy, there is every reason to believe that Lacy will be the Packers' top back in 2013. But health appears to be the biggest question mark with the former Alabama running back. In addition to the hamstring issues that pulled Lacy out of the combine, multiple outlets have reported that the running back had an unreported toe fusion prior to the Crimson Tide's 2012 championship run. While that could be a concern for the Packers in the years to come, it shouldn't impact Lacy this season. After the procedure, he racked up 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns on 204 carries. While Lacy won't be that prolific in Green Bay, he threatens to become the Packers' first 1,000 yard back since Ryan Grant.
Johnathan Franklin, HB
Franklin is the wildcard in the Packers' backfield. He comes from UCLA as the most decorated rusher in school history, but possesses no extraordinary skills. At 5-10 205, Franklin isn't a big back, yet not a small one either. But Franklin can do things that no other back on the roster can. He's a better receiver out of the backfield and a much shiftier runner after the catch. If Franklin can improve his pass blocking, John Kuhn may have seen his last days as a third down back.
Angelo Pease, HB
In his two years at Kansas State, Pease totaled only 524 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns. Yet curiously, he was one of the first UDFAs the Packers signed. What does Ted Thompson see in Pease? He ran efficiently in college, averaging 5.1 yards a pop. He's also a bigger back, measuring in at 5-11 215. There wasn't a readily available report of a 40 time, but estimates have him in the high 4.4, low 4.5 range. You take a chance on those physicals. Unfortunately for Pease, that chance is slim as Lacy and Franklin are locks to make the roster and the Packers aren't likely to carry more than three halfbacks. Unless he can beat out Alex Green or James Starks, Pease's time in Green Bay will be short lived.
Ryan Roberson, FB
A converted linebacker, Roberson has an outside shot of making the final roster. His body type, 5-11 240 pounds, makes him an ideal candidate for special teams. With John Kuhn at the end of his contract, and with the Packers expressing no inclination to extend the veteran fullback, a strong camp from Roberson could net him a spot on the 53.
DuJuan Harris, HB
Harris' story is well known. After going undrafted, he sold cars (or at least he tried to) while waiting another shot in the NFL. That chance came in October when Green Bay signed Harris to the practice squad, and a few months later he became their starting running back. Lost in the intrigue surrounding Harris' ascension is his severe limitations. He's not a particularly fast back, and awhile he's thick for his height, he doesn't move the pile. After the Packers selected Lacy, it seemed Harris was destined to be the designated receiver out of the backfield much like Brandon Jackson was a few years back. Now with Franklin in tow, Harris' job security is much less sturdy. Don't be shocked if last year's feel good story doesn't get a sequel.
Alex Green, HB
Greens' become an unpopular player among the fans, but it's still too early to judge him. Green missed most of his rookie year with a torn ACL, and his knee didn't completely recover in time for the 2012 season. Now that Green is finally 100%, he may finally show why the Packers selected him two years ago in the third round. Don't be surprised if Green ends up the beating out the more popular Harris.
James Starks, HB
Most assumed Starks was as good as gone after the Packers selected Lacy in the second round. That assumption was all but confirmed when the team made it known that Starks was on the trading block. At least so far there have been no takers, and Starks will enter training camp with no room for error. If he's hurt or can't beat out Green or Harris, he's done with the Packers.
John Kuhn, FB
While the short yardage Kuhn dive has grown tiresome, there wasn't a more important back on the roster in 2012. With Marshall Newhouse's inconsistencies and Bryan Bulaga missing most of the year while being replaced by an undrafted rookie, the need for a reliable pass blocker to protect Aaron Rodgers was critical. Rodgers was sacked a league high 51 times, but without Kuhn that number would have been much greater. There's been discussion that Kuhn might not be long for Green Bay, but until another back can consistency keep Rodgers upright, Kuhn should remain in Titletown.
Cedric Benson, HB
Benson isn't currently a member of the Packers, but he was brought in for a tire kicking the week before the draft. After the selection of Lacy and Franklin, Benson won't be getting a second year in Green Bay.
Projected Depth Chart
HB: Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green
FB: John Kuhn, Ryan Roberson*
* = practice squad
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JBHirschhorn.
Check out all of Acme Packing Company's draft coverage: 2013 NFL Draft Central | Green Bay Selects Datone Jones in First Round | Green Bay Drafts Eddie Lacy in Second Round | Complete List of Packers' Draft Picks| Packers Undrafted Free Agent Tracker
Keep an eye on the news about quarterback Aaron Rodgers' new contract extension
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