With a lack of depth at the running back position, the Green Bay Packers will almost certainly draft or sign one or more rookie free agents to their depleted roster.
Today we look at yet another possibility for the Pack in the upcoming draft.
Packers Player Profile: Jay Ajayi, RB Boise State University.
Player information: 6’ 0”, 221 lbs. Junior
Hometown: Plano, Texas (Born in England)
NFL Combine Stats
40 Yard Dash: 4.57 seconds, 9th among running backs
Vertical Jump: 39”, 5th among running backs.
Broad Jump: 121”, 5th among running backs.
225# Bench: 19, 15th among running backs.
Compares to pros: Marshawn Lynch, Bishop Sankey, and Steven Jackson.
Projected Draft Position: Second – fourth rounds.
A complete three-down back who rarely left the field in college. He rushed for 1,823 yards last season and also caught 50 passes for 536 yards – becoming the first FBS running back to ever break the 1800 yard mark rushing and 500 yard mark receiving during the same season. He scored 32 total touchdowns for a Boise State squad that was totally reliant upon him for their rushing offense.
Strengths: A very physical hard-pounding inside running threat. Great stiff-arm move thus his comparison to Lynch. Great balance and pad level. Shows just enough juke to make defenders miss and is powerful enough to bowl over would-be tacklers. Adequate hands out of the backfield. A willing blocker.
Weaknesses: Not a great perimeter runner, nor is he particularly shifty. Tore his ACL in 2011. Was arrested for stealing sweatpants in 2011, spend time in jail and was disciplined by the team. His pass-blocking technique will need refining. Has had ball security issues with 12 fumbles – seven lost – during his college career.
Jay Ajayi has been a hot-rising commodity as of late and mentioned in the same breath as the top tier backs in the upcoming draft. He has been compared favorably to Seattle Seahawks great Marshawn Lynch, a bit of a reach in my view. His soccer background has aided his ability to accelerate quickly through the hole with power.
Some experts have Ajayi ranked as high as the second round given his production in college and projection in the pro game where he could be a three down back. It would not be surprising to see him taken high in the draft and could be a day-two selection.
What they are saying about him: “Of all the backs in this draft, Ajayi might be my favorite because he can do everything you want from a back and you don’t have to find a complementary back to pick up the slack for him in any one area” – an AFC scout in charge of grading running backs.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report rates Ajayi as the 7th best back in the draft and 61st best overall player regardless of position.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper regards Ajayi as the eighth-ranked back and could drop to the third day of the draft (rounds 4- 7).
What the Packers See: Ajayi is a complete never-come-off-the-field running back. He really fits in the same mold as current Packers back Eddie Lacy. Should injuries befall Lacy, the Packers would have a plug-and-play replacement ready to step-in without much of a drop-off. The Packers will still have to do their due-diligence to further determine if character issues are still a concern. Should he be available in round four or beyond he would have to be considered a strong draft possibility. Selecting him though would almost certainly end the tenure of backup James Starks.
He has not been a kickoff or punt returner, an area of great need by the Packers.——————
Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .