Lacy Runs Over Class of 2013

A look at the all-around production shows why Eddie Lacy is the cream of the running back crop from the the 2013 draft.

Before the 2013 NFL Draft, a source thought Le’Veon Bell was the Green Bay Packers’ preference at running back.

If that’s true, then the Packers are thrilled with their consolation prize.

Bell went at No. 48 overall to Pittsburgh. With Green Bay up at No. 55, general manager Ted Thompson had his choice of Wisconsin legend Montee Ball, Alabama’s Eddie Lacy and Texas A&M’s Christine Michael.

In a shrewd move, Thompson made a deal with San Francisco to back up six spots. At No. 58, Denver grabbed Ball. At No. 61, Thompson grabbed Lacy.

With Bell facing a three-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, you could argue the Packers got the best back in the draft — the first off the board was Giovani Bernard going at No. 37 to the Bengals.

Of the three 1,000-yard seasons produced by the 24 running backs selected in 2013, Lacy has two of them. Lacy leads the way with 2,317 rushing yards — Bell is next with 2,221 and Bernard is almost 1,000 yards behind Lacy for third place. Bell leads the way with 3,474 yards from scrimmage, with Lacy second with 3,001. (See charts at end of story.)

It’s not just the production with the ball in his hands. Of the Class of 2013, six have rushed for at least 1,000 yards. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Lacy has been the pass protector in that group with no sacks, one quarterback hit and a total of five pressures allowed. Bell has allowed two sacks and a total of 10 pressures, Bernard no sacks and 13 pressures, Ball one sack and nine pressures and the Rams’ Zac Stacy one sack and four pressures. Of the top six, only the Cardinals’ Andre Ellington has allowed fewer pressures (no sacks, four total pressures) but that’s on more than 100 fewer pass-blocking snaps than Lacy.

“There’s not too many guys who can come in and play that well in their first two years,” Lacy said when asked to examine the first two years of his career. “Some guys, their first year might not be that good, and their second year is a lot better and the third year is when they get comfortable in the system. Around here, the guys do a great job of keeping me levelheaded and keeping me aware of what’s going on and comfortable. And for me, being comfortable is key. As long as I’m comfortable and I can play the way I need to play, then I’ll do as good as I can.”

Lacy is coming off his best season in the league. He ranked third among all backs last season with 13 total touchdowns — nine rushing, four receiving. His yards per carry went from 4.1 as a rookie to 4.6 in 2014, with that half-yard difference showing up in yards after contact, where he went from 2.3 yards after contact per rush to 2.8, according to PFF. He also improved his receiving output from 35 catches for 257 yards in 2013 to 42 receptions for 427 yards in 2014. His tremendous hands were evident during Thursday’s minicamp finale, when he made an incredible leaping, back-shoulder catch.

“I thought he became more of a complete back,” running backs coach Sam Gash said last week. “I think he continues to make strides in a positive way. Every day, he’s there. He works hard. He’s finishing runs. He’s working himself into the back he knows he has to be.”

Class of 2013: Ten Best Seasons

RkPlayer Year Age Draft Tm G GS Att Yds Y/A TD Y/G
1 Le'Veon Bell 2014 22 2-48 PIT 16 16 290 1361 4.69 8 85.1
2 Eddie Lacy 2013 23 2-61 GNB 15 15 284 1178 4.15 11 78.5
3 Eddie Lacy 2014 24 2-61 GNB 16 16 246 1139 4.63 9 71.2
4 Zac Stacy 2013 22 5-160 STL 14 12 250 973 3.89 7 69.5
5 Le'Veon Bell 2013 21 2-48 PIT 13 13 244 860 3.52 8 66.2
6 Giovani Bernard 2013 22 2-37 CIN 16 0 170 695 4.09 5 43.4
7 Giovani Bernard 2014 23 2-37 CIN 13 9 168 680 4.05 5 52.3
8 Andre Ellington 2014 25 6-187 ARI 12 12 201 660 3.28 3 55.0
9 Andre Ellington 2013 24 6-187 ARI 15 1 118 652 5.53 3 43.5
10 Montee Ball 2013 23 2-58 DEN 16 0 120 559 4.66 4 34.9

Class of 2013: Combined Rushing

Rk PlayerDraft Tm G GS Att Yds Y/A TD Y/G
1 Eddie Lacy 2-61 GNB 31 31 530 2317 4.37 20 74.7
2 Le'Veon Bell 2-48 PIT 29 29 534 2221 4.16 16 76.6
3 Giovani Bernard 2-37 CIN 29 9 338 1375 4.07 10 47.4
4 Andre Ellington 6-187 CRD 27 13 319 1312 4.11 6 48.6
5 Zac Stacy 5-160 RAM 27 17 326 1266 3.88 8 46.9
6 Montee Ball 2-58 DEN 21 3 175 731 4.18 5 34.8
7 Knile Davis 3-96 KAN 32 2 204 705 3.46 10 22.0
8 Joseph Randle 5-151 DAL 29 2 105 507 4.83 5 17.5
9 Latavius Murray 6-181 RAI 15 3 82 424 5.17 2 28.3
10 Mike James 6-189 TAM 19 3 79 332 4.20 0 17.5

Class of 2013: Scrimmage/All-Purpose Yards

RkPlayerDraft Tm G GS Touch Rush TotOffAPYd RtY
1 Le'Veon Bell 2-48 PIT 29 29 662 2221 3474 3474 0
2 Eddie Lacy 2-61 GNB 31 31 607 2317 3001 3001 0
3 Giovani Bernard 2-37 CIN 29 9 437 1375 2238 2238 0
4 Andre Ellington 6-187 CRD 27 13 405 1312 2078 2099 21
5 Zac Stacy 5-160 RAM 27 17 370 1266 1559 1560 0
6 Montee Ball 2-58 DEN 21 3 204 731 938 938 0
7 Knile Davis 3-96 KAN 32 2 270 705 927 2077 1150
8 Joseph Randle 5-151 DAL 29 2 118 507 591 591 7
9 Latavius Murray 6-181 RAI 15 3 118 424 567 996 429
10 Stepfan Taylor 5-140 CRD 30 4 118 323 473 473 0
Note: Sorted by total all-purpose yards

Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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