Today’s prospect is one coveted by many fans in Broncos Country. There is a not-so-silent majority that believes the Denver Broncos absolutely must have the top Running Back on the board when they pick at the 28th overall spot in April’s Draft. Well, the name at the top of the Running Back rankings is a kid named Eddie Lacy, out of Alabama. At 5’10", 220 lbs., Lacy has a pre-Combine 40 Time of 4.53 seconds. He is ranked #1 out of 198 Running Backs across the nation and 36th overall. Lacy is expected to go in the late 1st-early 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Eddie Lacy had a solid career for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Lacy was apart of two back to back National Championship teams. During his three year career at Alabama, Lacy totaled 2,402 yards rushing, 30 TD's and an Yard Per Carry average of 6.8. Lacy also totaled 35 total receptions for 338 yards and 2 TD's. The 2012 season was Lacys first year starting and he had a solid year. Lacy totaled 1,332 yards rushing and 17 TD's. Lacy also added 22 receptions for 226 yards and 2 TDs.
Lacy was named the Offensive MVP for the 2013 BCS Championship game.
Lacey isn't likely to follow Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram into the first round, but he has shown enough natural running skills to go along with his bullish frame to prove he's hardly just a product of Alabama's terrific offensive line.
Lacey redshirted in 2009 but quickly flashed star potential once given an opportunity. In his first collegiate game (San Jose State), Lacey rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns on only 13 carries, and he ended the year in similar fashion against a talented Michigan State squad in the Capital One Bowl by rushing for 86 yards, including touchdown scampers of 62 and 12 yards.
He emerged as the top backup behind Richardson in 2011, finishing second on the team with 674 yards (averaging 7.1 per attempt!) and seven touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes for 139 yards.
With Richardson now the focal point of the Cleveland Browns' offense, Lacey enjoyed a spectacular breakout junior season. Although overshadowed at times by true freshman TJ Yeldon, Lacy was strong down the stretch, with a career-high 181 rushing yards against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game followed by 140 rushing yards in the BCS title game, earning Offensive Player of the Game honors.
He finished the 2012 season with 1,322 rushing yards on 204 carries (6.5 average) and 17 touchdowns, earning First Team All-SEC honors.
Lacy projects as a starting running back in the NFL, similar to a more agile Michael Bush-type.
Has the leg drive to push the pile and keeps his legs churning through contact, often resulting in broken tackles. Lacey reads his blocks nicely, showing enough lateral agility to avoid defenders as well as the burst to stick his foot in the ground and accelerate through gaps quickly.
He's a well-built back, but shows good balance (including an often-used spin move) and athleticism (leaping ability) to surprise defenders anticipating that all he has is power. Runs tough and determined with an angry attitude to finish each run and pick up positive yardage.
WEAKNSESSES: Needs to stay healthy as he's been hampered at times with foot injuries (ankle sprains, turf toe). Put the ball on the ground a few times early in his career, but improved in this area.
COMPARES TO: Michael Bush, RB, Chicago Bears - Both have the power to run over defenders while also possessing surprisingly fluid feed for their big frames.
Why He'll Work: Lacy is not the fastest back you'll come across, but he and has one ability that Michael Turner sorely lacked in 2012: explosiveness. He hits the hole with decisiveness and authority, and he has the lower body strength to handle the tough runs when eight men are stacked in the box. He is a patient runner, yes, but he gets upfield like you wouldn't believe. As a Georgia fan, I can assure you that Lacy exceeded every one of my expectations in that SEC title game. Guys in the secondary were getting run over. Mike Gilliard looked downright silly. Even the mighty Alec Ogeltree tackled him with difficulty.
In essence, he's the perfect example of a reliable, one-cut running back that has enough speed to hold his own in the open field. But he also has that hard-nosed strength that makes him so difficult for opposing defenses to contain. He is consistent in his ability to gain positive yardage - a 6.8 yards per carry average over his career with the Tide shows that - and because he split a lot of time in college, he will have a relatively fresh set of legs as a rookie in the NFL.
There are other questions to consider, too. Just how much of Lacy's success is tied to Alabama's offensive line, a unit most considered the best in the nation in 2012? Are his numbers a product of a playing in the Tide's run-heavy system?
Grade: 7.6 (Grading Scale)
+Was essentially a one-speed back as an underclassman, really developed burst through the hole in his final season
+Has just enough open field speed to finish long runs with a head of steam
+Incredible balance with thick build in lower half, low center of gravity
+Raw strength is the hallmark of his game, elusiveness comes from ability to run through arm tackles
+Never quits on a carry no matter how many tacklers stand him up and will not run out of bounds
-Vision behind blockers is inconsistent, misses lanes occasionally due to a narrow focus with his eyes
+Picks up defense’s moving parts with his eyes very well, anticipates blitzers and run fits
+Has an innate feel for yardage needed on goal to go and short yardage situations and will put his body on the line
+/-Rarely followed a fullback in college, may require a tricky transition in I-formation sets
+Spots free rushers very quickly and meets them decisively, high football IQ
+Blocking technique developed as career went on, learning to meet rushers with square shoulders and anchor
+Lower half strength holds up against very big rushers, doesn’t need to go low often
-Too much of a lunge blocker with no hand placement, throws a shoulder into rushers instead
+Fluid hips and sets up routes well with head fakes or running off defenders
-Imprecise and borderline lazy with footwork coming out of the backfield in the passing game
Hands and Carrying:
+/-Struggled with fumbles early in his career, ball security improved since
+Very natural receiver with comfortable hands to catch the ball away from his body
+Transitions from pass catcher to runner quickly and smoothly with loose hips to turn upfield
-Has made a habit of leaving his feet and extending the ball from his body in goal-line situations; gets him more touchdowns but creates a lot of risk for turnovers and getting stuffed
-Carries ball in his right arm only, will not switch hands
-Doesn’t hold the ball as high on his chest as he should, holds it much closer to his waist frequently
+Bull for defensive backs to bring down if he hits the second level cleanly, will carry tacklers upwards of ten yards from time to time
+Prototypical "fall-forward" back who finishes runs better than any in this class
+Spins off of and away from contact very frequently, smooth and well balanced throughout
+Just enough side to side wiggle to make defenders miss in 1 on 1 situations
+Shows off a polished jump-cut occasionally, uses it judiciously
-Impatient runner when holes are slot to develop, will run into the back of his blockers
+Drops pads well in short yardage while still keeping good balance and giving himself every chance to convert
+/-Frequently cuts against the grain to take advantage of defenders who are overpursuing, but his narrow vision limits ability to be dynamic in cutback situations though
-Lateral speed to win around the corner merely average, more effective when attacking forward before bouncing outside with a strong cut
-Stiff arm negligible at best, hinders ability around the edge as he downshifts to deploy it
Eddie Lacy capped off his college career by putting on a show in the national championship game against Notre Dame. He showed off all the qualities that make him such an enticing back: power, acceleration, versatility, elusiveness. Lacy comes from a pedigree of Alabama backs including first round picks Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram. He actually had a higher career yards per carry (6.8) than Richardson (5.8) and Ingram (5.7). Another statistic that could endear Lacy to teams is the lack of mileage on his metaphorical tires. As a result of being a part of a two man rotation throughout his career, Lacy has only recorded 355 collegiate carries. The average career carries of draft prospects Le’Veon Bell, Montee Ball, Giovani Bernard, Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor, Joseph Randle, and Kenjon Barner comes out to 661. Eddie Lacy is ready to come in and carry the load on the ground from day one. He’ll churn out tough yards and be as efficient as you could ask. He may not break off as many long runs in the league, but his subtle agility and elusiveness will be enough to consistently move the sticks. Lacy is a perfect fit for a power running game and has all the talent to go in the late first round or early second round.
Lacy has been plagued with some minor injuries throughout his career. During the 2012 season Lacy was hampered with a surgically repaired toe that lingered for nine months, his knees were bothering him and he had some sprained ankles throughout the year. Lacy wasn't 100% until the National Championship game where he had a monster game. Lacy had 20 carries for 140 yard and 1 TD.
Here's what Lacy had to say about playing the year with hampering injuries.
"I think I made a pretty solid statement," Lacy said. "I went out and played the best I could, made sure the team was always in a positive situation, kept the momentum and kept making explosive plays.
Even with those injuries lacy finished the season on fire. Lacy ran for 726 yards and 10 touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s final six games to emerge as one of the country’s best running backs.
I'm a big Eddie Lacy fan. I think he would give our offense something it's been missing for years. I dont think McGahee has much left in the tank and possibly could be cut, and while Moreno had a solid ending to his 2012 season can he keep it up? Hillman has potential, but can he be an every down back? Lacy can be that guy. Him and Moreno could give the Broncos a solid 1-2 punch. With an aging QB, and strong running game is essential to have success. John Elway knows this very well. Also if John Fox wants to continue his "Fox Ball" conservative approach, why not give him a runner who can be successful? One big question is if Lacy was a product of the very very good Alabama offensive line. These questions will have to be answered in the coming weeks and months. Lacy expects to be a late first round to mid second round pick.