As the days tick down to the start of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, we continue looking at various positions which might interest the Green Bay Packers. Today, we look at the running backs.
While that position is hardly one of need in Green Bay, given that Eddie Lacy and James Starks have both been successful in their roles and remain under contract for 2015, it's always prudent to keep a full stable of backs at one's disposal. While it seems unlikely for Thompson to snag a player in the early rounds, there are a few talents who might trump draft position in just the right scenario.
First Day Possibility
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
Projected combine measurements (from NFL Draft Scout): 6'1", 207 pounds, 4.52 40
I'll say this before anybody makes a mention of how Wisconsin running backs haven't performed well in the NFL: just don't. When Barry Alvarez (a guy who knows a thing or two about the quality of backs that have come through Madison over the past 25 years) says Gordon's the best he's ever seen, you can put that tired, old argument to rest. Don't bother with the "he gets a lot of carries" argument either; he averaged 7.8 yards per carry in college and was at 7.5 in 2014 despite running the ball nearly 350 times.
Gordon has a blend of size, speed, and shiftiness that no other Badger back has had. Add in the fact that he has impeccable balance, especially along the sideline (seen on display here and here), and a wicked stiff-arm, and you can see why many analysts expect Gordon to be the first running back taken in the first round in a few years.
A big question is whether he will participate in drills at all, seeing as he's at the top of a deep crop of tailbacks, or whether he might choose to wait until his Pro Day in familiar territory in Madison.
Second Day Possibility
David Johnson, Northern Iowa
Projected combine measurements: 6'1", 224 pounds, 4.57 40
Johnson is physically a James Starks clone, but he comes with better receiving and blocking skills than Starks did in his draft year. His hands especially were on display at the Senior Bowl this year, as he impressed in practice and had one reception for a nice 16-yard gain.
He also provides some ability as a kick returner as well and finished as UNI's all-time leading rusher. The question is his agility and change-of-pace - he's a one-speed back - but he could end up as a second round pick if he tests well in Indy.
Third Day Possibility
B.J. Catalon, TCU
Projected combine measurements: 5'9", 190, 4.49 40
Catalon comes from the spread attack at TCU, where he was a triple-threat as a runner, receiver, and returner. He racked up a career-high 12 total touchdowns in 2014, and has taken two kickoffs to the house in his career. If he can put up a time in the low 4.4's, it wouldn't be a surprise for some team to take him in the middle rounds as a third down and return specialist.
Michael Dyer, Louisville
Projected combine measurements: 5'9", 215 pounds, 4.50 40
Dyer's road to the NFL has been a bumpy one, and his Combine interviews will likely hold a great deal of weight with NFL teams. He ran for two 1,000-yard seasons at Auburn his freshman and sophomore years, even earning the MVP award in the BCS National Championship Game when Auburn defeated Oregon after the 2010 season.
However, off-the-field issues got him suspended from Auburn, and he bounced around to a few schools before finally settling back in at Louisville. There, he was part of a timeshare with fellow Combine attendee Dominique Brown and young back Brandon Radcliff.
The physical skills are likely to impress in Indianapolis, but the interviews are likely to make or break his shot at being drafted.
Here's the full list of running backs who will be at next week's Scouting Combine: