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Packers 2018 Draft Board Projection: Few Running Backs fit Packers’ mold this year

Related: why did so few of the top running backs seem to want to run the 3-cone drill this year?

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

This is the fourth article in a multi-part series that will attempt to project what the Green Bay Packers’ draft board will look like at each position in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Green Bay Packers do not enter the 2018 NFL Draft in apparent need of help at the running back position on paper; between Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, and Ty Montgomery, the team has a trio of intriguing talents with a variety of different skill sets. However, as last year’s injury issues showed, a team can never count on its entire stable of running backs to remain healthy, and thus another draft pick is a possibility.

As defined by Justis Mosqueda last season, the Packers have tended to have a preferred set of athletic skills for their running backs — a “type,” as he called it. That consists of relatively large backs with decent speed and very good agility. The trends he found involve a minimum height of 5-foot-9 7/8, a minimum weight of 205 pounds, a 40-yard dash time of 4.55 seconds or faster, and a 3-cone time of 7.00 seconds or faster.

Last year, the Packers drafted three players on day three of the 2017 draft, but the most notable outlier was actually the first player chosen at the position. Williams was more than a tenth of a second off the cone threshold based on his Pro Day results, which show a reported 7.12-second time. Meanwhile, Aaron Jones, the 5th-round pick, hit everything with flying colors except for the height cutoff — he’s just 5-foot-9 1/8. Finally, the team chose Devante Mays in round seven, a time when the team tends to discard many of their testing minimums; Mays’ Pro Day cone time was well short at 7.43 seconds.

Accounting for Williams and Jones, we extended the cutoffs on our board to account for them — specifically by lowering the minimum height to 5-foot-9 even and the maximum 3-cone time to Williams’ 7.12 seconds.

In doing so, we find that 12 of the top 50 highest-rated running backs in this draft class (from — plus two players who are listed as H-backs but who could conceivably play running back — meet the Packers’ cutoffs or appear on track to meet them. One issue with several of the top running backs this year is that several did not perform in the 3-cone drill at the Combine and chose not to do so at their Pro Days either, leading us to have four players with incomplete testing profiles.

Here are the 12 players whom we have identified as possible Packers targets. Note that USC’s Ronald Jones performed his workouts at a second Pro Day, with results reported here.

The board is formatted based on testing success; players who are shown in bold passed all the cutoffs, players in italics did not complete full testing but appear on track to pass, and players with no special formatting were in the borderline range for either height or 3-cone time (with the offending measurement shown in strikethrough). A final note: asterisks next to any of the testing results indicate that the result was obtained from his Pro Day testing, and note that those results came from either or from other reliable sources.

Projected Packers’ 2018 RB Draft Board

  • Saquon Barkley, Penn State; Projected Round 1; 6000, 233; 4.40 40 time, no 3-cone
  • Derrius Guice, LSU; Round 1-2; 5104, 224; 4.49, no 3-cone
  • Sony Michel, Georgia; Round 2; 5105, 214; 4.54, no 3-cone
  • Ronald Jones, USC; Round 2; 5115, 205; 4.48*, 7.00*
  • Nick Chubb, Georgia; Round 2-3; 5107, 227; 4.52, 7.09
  • Kerryon Johnson, Auburn; Round 2; 5114, 213; 4.54*, 7.07
  • Rashaad Penny, San Diego State; Round 2-3; 5110, 220; 4.46, no 3-cone
  • Jaylen Samuels, NC State; Round 3-4; 5114, 225; 4.54, 6.93
  • Royce Freeman, Oregon; Round 4; 5114, 229; 4.54, 6.90
  • Kalen Ballage, Arizona State; Round 5; 6014, 228; 4.46, 6.91
  • Chase Edmonds, Fordham; Round 7-UDFA; 5091, 205; 4.55, 6.79
  • Ryan Nall, Oregon State; UDFA; 6021, 232; 4.52*, 6.95