On Sunday, Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones eclipsed 100 yards rushing, a notable accomplishment for a fifth-round draft choice. The Packers rarely spend high draft capital on tailbacks, but this year’s selection of three players at the position — including fourth-rounder Jamaal Williams and seventh-round pick Devante Mays — meant that the likelihood was good that at least one of them would have a nice day sooner or later.
As it turns out, Jones’ big day in Dallas made him the sixth Packers running back to have a 100-yard rushing day during his rookie season since 2000. Here is a look at the other players who did so for the Packers at least once during their first years in the NFL, a couple of whom
2013: Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin
The Green Bay Packers drafted a pair of running backs in 2013, trying a similar strategy to what they did in 2017 by spending multiple picks on the position in an effort to find a lead back. They did so in second-round pick Eddie Lacy — at least for a few years — but it’s easy to forget that the later pick, Johnathan Franklin, was the first of the two to have a 100-yard game on the ground.
Franklin’s big game came in week three as he filled in for an injured James Starks in the second half. Starks had started in place of Lacy, who was concussed a week earlier by Washington defensive back Brandon Meriweather.
The fifth-rounder out of UCLA carried the football 13 times for 103 yards and a touchdown that day, adding three receptions for 23 yards. Franklin shares more parallels with Jones beyond the rookie performance, however; the two were very similarly sized (5’10”, 205 for Franklin, 5’9”, 208 for Jones) and ran similarly at the Combine — both ran the 40 in 4.49 seconds while Jones had slightly better times in the short shuttle (4.20 vs. 4.31) and 3-cone drills (6.82 vs. 6.89).
Lacy nearly hit the century mark in week four, coming a yard short with 23 carries for 99 yards against the Lions, but got there in the fifth game with a 23 carry, 120 yard performance. He would go on to have four total 100-yard games as a rookie, and racked up 1,178 rushing yards total that season.
2010: James Starks
Starks never hit 100 yards during the regular season as a rookie, playing in just three games and totaling 101 rushing yards after missing much of the early part of the year on the PUP list. However, the sixth-round draft choice exploded against Philadelphia in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, carrying the football 23 times for 123 yards on the ground. The Packers leaned on him heavily during that playoff run, as he carried the football a total of 81 times in four postseason games.
2007: Brandon Jackson
Jackson, a second-round pick out of Nebraska, was always at his best when given a handful of carries and a few targets in the passing game rather than being used as a feature back. However, in week 17 against the Detroit Lions, the 12-3 Packers had nothing to play for — they were assured of the #2 seed in the NFC. Once they jumped out to an early lead, Mike McCarthy chose to let Brett Favre and Ryan Grant rest a bit for the final three quarters. Jackson got 20 carries that afternoon, running for 113 yards, including a 46-yard scamper on the first play of the second half, as the Packers won 34-13.
Like Franklin, Jackson’s Combine and measureables match up reasonably closely with Jones. Jackson was a bit bigger, at 5’10” and 210 pounds, and had a slightly better shuttle time at 4.14 seconds while being a few ticks slower than Jones in the 40 (4.55) and 3-cone drill (7.00). In fact, Mockdraftable lists Jackson as one of Jones’ closest overall athletic comparisons.
2005: Samkon Gado
The 2005 Packers were bad; in fact, they were the worst Packers team in the last three decades, finishing 4-12. However, the lone bright spot that season was the play of a little-known Nigerian running back out of Liberty University, who went undrafted and spent training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs before being released from the practice squad in early October. Two weeks later, the Packers signed to their practice squad, and another twelve days after that he was promoted to the 53 in the wake of injuries to Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport.
After getting one carry for eight yards in his NFL debut, Gado took over as the team’s featured ball-carrier a week later, running the ball 26 times for 62 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. His third game was the big explosion, however, as he had a 25-carry, 103-yard, two-touchdown performance in a win over the Falcons. He went on to have three total 100-yard games that season, including a 171-yard day against the Lions in week 13. Gado’s tenure in Green Bay lasted until the following September, when the team traded him to Houston for fellow running back Vernand Morency.