2009: Mark Ingram rushes for 1600 yards and 17 touchdowns while leading his team to a BCS national Championship and winning the Heisman trophy. 2010: Ingram is drafted in the first round, #28 overall to the New Orleans Saints and sophomore back Trent Richardson bursts onto the scene. 2011: Richardson rushes for 1700 yards and 21 touchdowns, leading to another BCS National Championship, is a Heisman finalist, and is drafted with the third overall pick by the Cleveland Browns.
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy has the misfortune of trying to follow one of the best acts in football. Being the next Alabama running back after Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson is like telling someone “Alright, you are going to be getting on stage right after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones warm the crowd up.”
Throw in the fact that Alabama also has the extremely exciting freshman TJ Yeldon breathing down Lacy’s neck, and you’re looking at a guy without a chance of separating himself from the others. And it’s not because he doesn’t have the talent.
Many with short memories will forget that, according to Rivals, Lacy was a four star recruit, 13th ranked running back, and top 120 prospect in the country when he came out of high school. Few people look at the 5’11″, 220 pound back and see the all-around skill set he possesses.
No, many just look at Eddie Lacy and remember how great Ingram and Richardson were, and dream about how good Yeldon could be.
But right now, Lacy is in the present, and the fact is that he is a very solid running back prospect that has true NFL potential. Much like Ingram and Richardson, he does not possess elite speed at the position. Ingram was a low-4.6 guy and Richardson was a low 4.5 guy. I think Lacy is closer to Richardson, and should post a time around 4.55. He isn’t as powerful as Ingram, but he is built very solidly and has very good balance for the position.
Lacy’s running intelligence is something that stands out to me when I watch him. Ingram was vaunted for his aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage and dedication to running north-south. Richardson was known for his light feet and change of direction ability combined with his immense physical skillset. Lacy gets his yards with patience and a great ability to read his offensive line. He is an ideal zone-scheme running back, in the mold of a guy like Ben Tate. He doesn’t have Tate’s second gear (Tate ran in the 4.4 range), but he has his patience in combination with his quickness once he sees the opening.
At this point, Lacy is a second day pick, and a guy who probably will be drafted into part of a rotation. I think he could be a star in a scheme such as the Redskins, but I am sure they are content with Alfred Morris and probably want to use their picks to shore up the defense. I could see a team like the Jets bringing him in as a rotational back because Lacy’s biggest concern is his ability to carry the load. He has never had more than 19 carries in a game (which he has done once), and before this season he never had more than 13 in a game.
I don’t envy Eddie Lacy’s position as the next in line in the Alabama running back lineage. I do think he has a potentially bright future ahead of him in the NFL, and I think he should go in the second day of the NFL draft.