Eddie Lacy…The Next Rookie Of The Year?

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It’s a little early, but the 2013 draft might contain a special treat for Green Bay Packers fans, namely a shot at a Packers rookie getting the prestigious Offensive NFL Rookie Of The Year Award.  Last year’s draft was basically all defense with only BJ Coleman and Andrew Datko getting picked in the 7th round, and both spent the year on the practice squad (although 2nd round pick Casey Hayward almost got the defensive NFL Rookie Of The Year Award, but that’s a different story).

In 2011, Randall Cobb was a good candidate but going up against a loaded wide receiver core with Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones, Cobb ultimately didn’t end up seeing much of the field during his rookie season.

In 2009 and 2010, the Packers didn’t really have a logical candidate as the early parts of the draft were filled with linemen and defensive players.  This year however is a little different where the draft has fallen in such a way and the Packers have drafted in such a way where I think rookie running back Eddie Lacy actually has a pretty decent shot at winning the award.

The Rules  

  1. In the last 20 years, only two offensive players who won were not drafted in the rounds 1 or 2 have won the award.  This makes sense as high round rookies are likely to see the field early and often, while lower round picks are often given more time on the bench to develop.
  2. In the history of the award, no offensive linemen of any sort has ever won; so it’s a good bet to scratch Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, Lane Johnson and DJ Fluker off the list.
  3. In the history of the award, no tight end has ever won; so go ahead and take off Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz, Gavin Escobar and Vance McDonald
  4. In the last 20 years only 3 wide receivers have won the award.  Considering how many wide receivers are drafted in the top 2 rounds, it’s surprising that they don’t make more of an impact in their rookie years.  

 

Pick 8 – WR Tavon Austin, Rams: Likely chance.  Wide receiver production is largely dependent on quarterback production and Sam Bradford hasn’t broken through as one of the top quarterbacks in the league (and may never at this point) and Rams no receiver got past 700 yards last year which probably isn’t enough to garner any attention in this pass happy league.  However, I think if Austin has any shot it’s going to be by using the same route as Percy Harvin, who got in more as a returner and utility man than as a wide receiver.    But if Austin returns a couple kicks for touchdowns, rushes for noticeable yardage and gets something out of the passing game, his total yards from scrimmage may be good enough to get him some votes.

Pick 16 – QB EJ Manuel, Bills: Very unlikely chance.  Quarterbacks almost always win offensive rookie of the year awards, but they have to be on the field and all indications at the moment seem to point to Kevin Kolb getting the start at least in the beginning of the season and it would be surprising to see Manuel win the award if he didn’t play the entire season.  Manuel was purported to be more of a developmental pick with high upside which downplays his ability to start right away plus his draft pick isn’t so high that teams are looking to force him into the line up before he’s ready so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him ride the bench for most of the season.

Pick 27 – WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans: Likely chance.  The Texans are severely missing a wide receiver opposite Andre Johnson, who while is declining still has the name reputation and physicality to command double teams and defensive attention.  Add a good running game with Arian Foster and Hopkins probably has the best chance of any wide receiver drafted in the 1st two rounds.  However, only 3 wide receivers in the last 20 years have ever won rookie of the year honors, so even as the most likely wide receiver still doesn’t make it a good shot.

Pick 29 – WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings: Very unlikely chance.  Like with Tavon Austin, wide receiver play is largely dependent on quarterback play, and Patterson isn’t going to get any help from Christian Ponder.  Even with the electric Percy Harvin, no wide receiver was able to get past 700 yards of receiving with Ponder behind center.  With Greg Jennings as the primary receiver, Kyle Rudolf as the safety valve and Adrian Peterson as the focal point on the offense, there’s no rush for Patterson to start producing.  Add to that a reported lack of route concepts and offensive scheme in general and Patterson is likely to be relegated to the role of returner and option wide receiver/running back.

Pick 34 – WR Justin Hunter, Titans: Very unlikely chance.  Hunter is also a raw player and on top of that the Titans have a mystery bordering on bust in quarterback Jake Locker.  Add to that 2 former 1st round wide receivers in Kenny Britt and Kendal Wright, and potentially the greatest running back in the league (or potentially the worst) in Chris Johnson and Hunter probably will have trouble cracking the starting roster.  With the addition of Andy Levitre, Chance Warmack and Brian Schwenke, expect the Titans to run early and often which again will hurt his production.

Pick 37 – RB Giovani Bernard, Bengals: Likely chance.  Bernard comes in as presumably the backup to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who rushed for over 1,000 yards.  But Bernard has the chance to shine quickly as the Bengals passing offense with Andy Dalton, AJ Green, Jermaine Gresham and 1st pick Tyler Eifert will force defenses to spread the field which should mean less stacked boxes for Green-Ellis and Bernard.  If he can supplant the law firm as the starting back he has a good chance to be in the conversation, but chances are better that both backs rotate.

Pick 39 – QB Geno Smith, Jets: No chance.  The Jets are a complete mess and more importantly the front office and coaching staff have no idea how to fix it.  Mark Sanchez is probably not really as bad as he played last year, but his lack of receiving threats as well as running backs didn’t help his cause any last year and they certainly won’t help Smith this year either.  Smith joins a quarterback stable that has to find reps for 5 players and a head coach more interested in defense than grooming quarterbacks.  Add to that his recent personality concerns with firing his agent and texting during team visits and Smith has somehow managed to reach bust status without ever playing, which is no small feat.

Pick 41 – WR Robert Woods, Bills: Very unlikely chance.  Kevin Kolb is decent quarterback given he’s healthy and EJ Manuel remains a complete unknown, but stable quarterback play probably can’t be expected from the Bills this year.  Woods probably has a less likely shot of winning since he’s really not well known as a returner (nor is he really good at returning either) or wide receiver/running back hybrid like Austin and Patterson can perform, so strictly as a wide receiver Woods probably won’t be able to produce enough right off the bat to get in the conversation.

Pick 48 – RB Le’Veon Bell, Steelers: Very likely chance.  While the Steelers do love to throw the ball, they also love to pound running backs between the tackles, which Bell has the size to do (but didn’t really show it in college).  Rashard Mendenhall is now an Arizona Cardinal so the only real competition Bell has is in Johnathan Dywer, who is a decent running back in his own right.

Pick 58 – RB Montee Ball, Broncos: Unlikely chance.  The Broncos have Willis McGahee, and former 1st round draft pick Knowshon Moreno, who both will likely start ahead of Ball.  Unless Ball explodes into the league I would expect to see the three being used in a rotation, which obviously hurts Ball’s production.  He could be an option for check downs and wheel routes from Peyton Manning so he could gain some passing yards but probably won’t be a every down runner for the Broncos so quickly.

Pick 59 – WR Aaron Dobson, Patriots: Very unlikely chance.  The Patriots are notorious for missing on wide receivers and it’s well known that Tom Brady won’t throw the ball to you if you don’t know the offense and the Patriots have one of the more complicated offenses in the league.  Add to that Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and presumably Danny Amendola and Dobson is probably the 4th option at best.

Pick 61 – RB Eddie Lacy, Packers: Very likely chance.  Lacy comes in probably already penciled in as the starting running back and is going to see wide open defenses with Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jermichael Finley on the field.  Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga are two of the better run blockers in the league and Lacy is faster and more agile that most give him credit for.  In terms of competition, Johnathan Franklin will probably get into the mix early, but since Franklin is as untested as Lacy I see this as the weakest competition of any running back.  I would say that Franklin also has a shot of winning the award, but 4th round picks almost never win the award so he has that going against him (Rookie of the Year voting is something like a popularity contest, so where you are drafted is important).  Injury is a big issue and perhaps the biggest factor in his production this year.

Pick 62 – RB Christine Michael, Seahawks: Very unlikely chance.  Michael will be stuck behind “beast mode” Marshawn Lynch and isn’t likely to see much time outside of keeping Lynch fresh or as a change of pace option.  It also has yet to be seen if Michael has yet to fully recover from the spate of injuries he suffered in college.

 

Best shot at winning rookie of the year:

  • Quarterback: EJ Manuel.  Almost a default pick given his only competition is Geno Smith and the Jets
  • Wide receiver: DeAndre Hopkins. He has a good quarterback throwing him the ball and a good receiver opposite to him who will attract double teams, also having Adrian Foster doesn’t hurt.  Austin and Patterson have an outside shot of getting considered but not as pure wide receivers.
  • Running Back: Le’veon Bell or Eddie Lacy.  I give a slight edge to Lacy as I think the offensive lines are basically a wash in terms of running the ball, but Rodgers is definitely a better quarterback than Roethlisberger and the Packers definitely have a better receiving core, which should equate to emptier boxes. Both can be essentially penciled in as the starters so they will probably be starting from game 1.

Basically, it’s very likely that either a running back or a quarterback will be selected for offensive NFL Rookie Of The Year Award and considering that this year’s draft was bereft of quarterbacking talent makes it very likely that a running back will therefore win the award.  If you take out running backs drafted on teams with established runners (who presumably will “steal” yardage) you basically are left with either Le’veon Bell or Eddie Lacy.  As I said above I think the Packers are a more competitive passing team than the Steelers at the moment, which should open things up for the running game.  Does this mean I think Lacy will win the award?  No, but he has a good shot.

What do you think? 

Who do you think will win offensive NFL Rookie Of The Year?
Pick 8 – WR Tavon Austin, Rams0%
Pick 16 – QB EJ Manuel, Bills0%
Pick 27 – WR DeAndre Hopkins, Texans0%
Pick 29 – WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings0%
Pick 34 – WR Justin Hunter, Titans0%
Pick 37 – RB Giovani Bernard, Bengals0%
Pick 39 – QB Geno Smith, Jets0%
Pick 41 – WR Robert Woods0%
Pick 48 – RB Le’Veon Bell, Steelers0%
Pick 58 – RB Montee Ball, Broncos0%
Pick 59 – WR Aaron Dobson, Patriots0%
Pick 61 – RB Eddie Lacy, Packers0%
Pick 62 – RB Christine Michael, Seahawks0%

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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  • Oppy

    This doesn’t really fit here, but the JSO’s Tom Silverstein posted an article stating the Mike McCarthy has confirmed that Bryan Bulaga will be the starting Left Tackle, Josh Sitton moved to Left Guard, and TJ Lang will play Right Guard. Big moves!

    Center and RT open to competition.

    Clearly, this is to protect Rodgers.. But could it also be a sign the Packers are planning on making teams pay if they stack their best pass rushers on Rodgers’ blind side by running a pounding back like Lacy directly at them?

    McCarthy also stated that at this point Newhouse and Barclay will be primary competition for the RT job; need to hope that Sherrod clears medical before he gets in the mix, and see the rookies before slotting them to any positions at all.

    If Barclay wins out that competition, and with the addition of Lacy and Franklin to the mix of Harris and House, the Packers run game could very well be transformed overnight. Bulaga, Sitton, EDS (or Tretter), Lang, and Barclay would be the most physical run blocking line we’ve had under McCarthy with what could be the strongest stable of RB talent he’s had to date.

    Crazy what can happen in an offseason.

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      post coming up on that shortly…

    • BubbaOne

      Besides EDS and Tretter I read Bahktiari may be tried at C. Van Roten and PSer Gerhart may add to the OC competition. Including Datko, Sherrod and Hughes this may be the best OL group under MM.

    • Batavia Greg

      Oppy: In your last paragraph, you talk about the transformation of the Packers’ running game due to the addition of Lacy and Franklin “to the mix of Harris and House.” I believe that you may have meant “Harris and Green,” or “Harris and Starks.” Davon House as a running back would be a transformation, indeed.

  • Razer

    I would like to be more optimistic about Eddie Lacy winning the ROY and our O-line improving. Unfortunately, the O-line moves are an act of desperation in an attempt to cover our lack of real talent. We already tried Bulaga at LT. Bryan Bulaga is both too slow and too stiff to effectively be a left tackle. Sitton was moved over to help this poor fit at LT and that will compromise both positions. With this as a backdrop, I can’t see Lacy rushing up a storm.

    I don’t know if it is MM, TT or Campen but our O-line has been a problem for the last 3 years. Yes Rodgers holds the ball for a long time, but we should have been able to field a decent line by now. Unless Lacy turns into AP, we will be looking for answers again next year.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Outside of some preseason games, I don’t think Bulaga has had a shot at tackle. Also, I think the coaching staff really likes the combo of Sitton and Bulaga together, hence the move. Finally, Lacy doesn’t need to turn into AP, Lacy just needs to be decent; you seem to forget that the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who makes bigger holes than most O-lineman

    • Spiderpack

      Uhh . . . Bulaga had a brief stint at LT as a rookie in the very beginning of that year, this is why he was stiff & too slow. Sitton & Bulaga know each other’s body language, tendencies, etc. The effect this has on performance is something MM properly respects & understands. I see this as Oppy does, God’s plan is coming together nicely :)

  • Savage57

    All of the changes sound like they make a ton of sense and I think are a bit of a pleasant surprise to Pack fans. How many of us went into the draft beleiving that TT and MM were going to go all in on the run game? This degree of transformation as to the modes of attack and the pieces in place to accomplish that are going to make it tough to be patient for the regular season.

    Lots to pay attention to and be excited about with this team.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      I don’t know if I would really call it a “all in move”. Both Lacy and Franklin were great value in picks where the Packers can afford a little more risk. An all in move is giving one guy $130 million, so I don’t think you’ll see the Packers turn into a ground and pound team any time soon.

      • Stroh

        Not a ground and pound team for sure. That’s for AP. But I think McCarthy is gonna give Lacy the ball about 20 carries a game or very close anyway. He gave Grant an average of 15+ for a couple years. Lacy will probably garner more carries than that, since he’s better in EVERY way than Grant. Better runner, better receiver and better blocker. Theres going to be a real commitment to the run now, IMO.

        I Would have rather seen an open competition at LT and LG, than moving both Bulaga and Sitton. IMO, its a bit of a desperation move too. Sitton should be left at his pro bowl position. Let Bulaga, Newhouse, Sherrod? and Datko all compete at LT and Sitton and Barclay at LG. Then fit the pieces after you find the winners.

        Still think the best OL combination is.
        Sherrod LT, Lang LG, EDS C, Sitton RG, Bulaga RT.
        THat puts players at their best positions. Sherrod has the tools to be a better LT than Bulaga IMO. He just needs to get healthy and that’s more a matter of time.

  • BubbaOne

    W the OL moves and RB picks TT and MM seem committed to the run game. If Lacy isn’t healthy Johnathan Franklin is a dark horse candidate to win the OROY. He had more yards from the LOS than Tavon Austin w/ as many TD’s. He’s being compared to another UCLA RB, MJD. He’s multi-dimentional on O and he may also get extra hype if he contributes in the return game.

    • Stroh

      Only seen one guy compare Franklin to MJD. That’s Ketchman, I’ve not heard or seen anyone else make that comparison. And he’s a little biased working for the Packers website.

  • Dobber

    Given the weakness of this draft class in skill position players (and QB in particular), it gives Lacy a shot. I suspect we’ll see the touches spread out enough that neither he nor Franklin will have tremendous yards from scrimmage numbers come January. If Lacy dominates the goal-line carries, that might push him over the edge, though.

    • Stroh

      McCarthy wants to have One guy that is THE guy. I wouldn’t expect too much of a distribution of carries. Can See Lacy getting near 20 carries/gm ave and less than 5-10 for the rest of RB’s.

  • cow42

    that’s a really unimpressive list of candidates to choose from.

    lacy’s got a chance.
    he wouldn’t even need to have a huge yea to do it.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Running back is a little hole for the Packers but this year’s draft class is an ever bigger hole so I think Lacy has a good shot.

  • Oppy

    It may be flawed logic to exclude players outside of rounds 1 and 2 from the running just because historically that’s where ROTY winners have been picked, particularly this year.

    In fact, I would suggest that this draft class may be more likely to see a ROTY who was drafted between 3-5.

    This draft class’s mark is that there was a real lack of stand-out talent(most draft classes have 4-12 players that are unusually gifted, this one did not come close), yet there was an unusual amount of very good, solid talent available in this draft, which led many scouts to believe that more long-term starting players will be culled from this class than any other in recent memory.

    That said, the talent level up into the 4th round is relatively homogenous. Perhaps this will work AGAINST Lacy’s odds. Think of the fact that the talent differential between Lacy and Franklin is most likely minimal. This could truly be an up-for-grabs award this season, and situation may be more of a factor than raw talent in determining ROTY in 2013

    • Thomas Hobbes

      Well just from my end, you have to put a cut off somewhere, and historically it’s almost always a 1st or 2nd rounder. Also, keep in mind that alongside production a ROY is also a popularity contest so players than fans and media know (like ones who were hyped in the drafting process and became high round picks) are more likely to get votes.

      • Oppy

        True enough. It’s like Raji being considered a pro-bowler.

        • Thomas Hobbes

          Right or Sitton not making it until last year. Production gets you onto the list, but popularity gets you the award.

    • Dobber

      You never know when an Alfred Morris or a Terrell Davis (late round RB) jumps up and surprises people with a big season.

  • Rob

    I wonder if lacey and Franklin (and maybe Harris) kind of cancel each other out. I see a huge impact being made all together but don’t know that anyone will have the impressive stats at the end of the year. Either way, a better offense equals happier fans!

    • Oppy

      I agree- having a player earn the award would be a nice touch, but I really could care less. I’m much more interested in having a great season as a team!

      • Thomas Hobbes

        Sure, but consider this a cherry on the top. I’m sure you were hoping Matthews and Hayward won the ROY right?

        • Oppy

          I thought Hayward was definitely deserving to be in the conversation, but I did not feel any sort of being slighted or upset that he did not win the award.

          Yes, it is cherry on top, but for me, that’s all it is- a nice extra. I don’t invest much in it.

          • BrianD

            Hayward won Defensive Rookie of the Year at ProFootballFocus, which to me is a more credible group of voters than the Associated Press.

    • Thomas Hobbes

      They will cancel each other out, but the same thing could be said for every other team and player outside of quarterback, which is very weak this year. Like I mentioned, I think the two likeliest choices are Lacy and Le’veon Bell, so ask yourself, who do you think will get more yards: Johnathan Dwyer or Franklin/Harris? I think it will be pretty close.

      • Stroh

        McCarthy like to play w/ one RB that gets the predominance of the carries. I don’t see a rotation or anything where the carries will be split evenly. IMO Lacy gets 20 touches and Franklin and Harris get a total of 10 touches. Lacy will probably get enough touches to be a strong candidate for ROY.

  • G

    Have to disagree on the historical argument for tight ends given how their use has completely changed in the last 5 years.

    Other than that – seems like a great list.

  • steve cheez

    Who was our last OROY? Lofton? Brockington?

  • Chad Lundberg

    Hobbes, you’re one of the smartest guys I know, and this website is probably my favorite Packers website, but this article should have been a little better proofread before it should have been released to who won the rookie of the year award who won the rookie of the year award proofread, TROLOLOL!

    Just kidding dude, back when I wrote for bleacher report I was probably the worst writer on there, lol.

    To the matter, I don’t know if I care about ROTY but personally I actually root for Rodgers to win the MVP like every year, for what that’s worth. I just like the idea of him being seen as the best QB of all time, and seeing him win more MVP’s helps that IMO.

  • PatMc

    I like Rodgers for MVP every year, but Matthews and Hayward as D players showed that our D was getting blue chip players – Now the mention of ROTY for Lacy makes me excited for the new year.

    The division is there for the packers. The OL changes will make it much more difficult for other teams D to read the tells.

    I expect the scheme to be simplier because MM said it will be. Finley will be treated more like a TE (not WR) to make his production go up. Having Lacy or Franklin in the runnning game forces the other teams to respect the running game. Expect Rodgers to have an MVP year.

    Is it possible that we might have a 1,000 yard runner and a couple of 1,000 yard receivers this year?

    • Dobber

      I see J-Mike having a big year because he’s playing for his big contract. I think that will focus him. On top of that, I don’t see the running game taking away a huge number of pass attempts. With GJ gone, that means someone else is catching more passes…I think Finley will be the beneficiary.

  • http://trytheclub.com Sir Cheese

    Although Lacy winning the award isn’t the most important thing, I believe if he has the type of season that garners a nomination for ROTY then the Packers will be in prime playoff position. A 1000+ yard rusher that is efficient on 3rd and short and excels in the readzone can do wonders for this offense.Imagine opposing defenses having to bring that extra man down to play the run. Either James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb or Jermichael Finley will have a 1 on 1 matchup. Aaron Rodgers will eat that up.

    As far as the % of carries I see Lacy being the primary back on 1st and 2nd downs,as well as goal line and short yardage situations. Jonathon Franklin And Dujaun Harris will rotate in a 3rd down/change of pace role. I also see Franklin contributing in the special teams department as a returner, Although I hope Jeremy Ross emerges as the primary return man. I see Alex Green as the 4th RB in this rotation regardless of who was taking 1st team snaps in OTA’s. He can still be valuable in regards to RB depth and special teams.

    This leaves James Starks on the outside looking in, and if the Packers can’t find a trade partner before the final cuts to get to the 53 man roster, I believe that Starks will be cut.

    Where does that leave John Kuhn? I think at the end of the day his role can be filled by younger more talented players and the $1.8 million cap hit could make him expendable.

    In any event I expect a drastic improvement in the run game overall. Can’t wait for the season to start, Go Pack Go!