For the first time in more than four decades, the Green Bay Packers selected three running backs.
The last of those was Utah State’s Devante Mays, who was taken with the first of Green Bay’s two seventh-round picks. At 230 pounds, however, Mays is the only one that fits the big-back profile that has been a staple of the Packers’ offenses. The big back for the past four seasons, Eddie Lacy, signed with Seattle in free agency and created the need to find a running back to pair with Ty Montgomery.
Now, the Packers have a lot of running backs. Green Bay took BYU’s Jamaal Williams (6-0 3/8, 212) in the fourth round and UTEP’s Aaron Jones (5-9 1/2, 208) in the fifth round.
"I don't really look at that," he said in a conference call. "I just look at is an opportunity for me to compete with those guys and compete for a spot. I don't really care if there was one or five. I'm always going to go out there and work hard and try to be No. 1. I don't care how many spots are on the depth chart."
Mays flirted with a 1,000-yard season as a junior, and big things were in store for his senior season. In the opener against Weber State, Mays rushed 18 times for 208 yards and three touchdowns. He emerged as the nation’s leading rusher but sustained a sprained MCL in his right knee the following week against USC. Mays played sporadically and sparingly the rest of the season, with 17 carries for 49 yards in five games.
“It was really difficult, not being able to really play my senior year,” Mays told Packer Report after the visit. “I had huge plans. Initially, it started out great — the first game, rushing for over 200 yards and being the top guy in the nation after Week 1. It was really hard not being able to show people what I can do. Going through the draft now and being under the radar and people not really knowing too much about me, it’s still been pretty hard. It’s hard not being one of those guys that they talk about, like a Leonard Fournette, who I know I should be mentioned with those guys.”
That put the pressure on Mays to put on a show at Utah State’s pro day. He answered the bell. Mays (5-10 3/8, 230) ran his 40 in 4.52 seconds, posted a vertical jump of 40.5 inches and put up 22 reps on the bench press. That set off a busy predraft schedule that included a trip to Green Bay.
“They’re going to get a player who always goes out and plays hard, a guy that’s going to give it his all, a playmaker — they can expect that for sure,” Mays said.
Mays rushed for 955 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. During his abbreviated senior season, he gained 259 yards, scored three touchdowns and averaged 7.0 yards per carry. Mays caught two passes during those two seasons. Nonetheless, Mays called himself a "do-it-all" back.
Mays started his college career with two years at Blinn (Texas) Junior College.
“This has been a dream my whole life, ever since I was a little boy,” he said. “It’ll definitely be a dream come true once my phone rings and someone says they’re going to draft me. Even if I sign as a free agent, it’s going to be a dream come true.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.