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Thread: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

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    'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    By Jim Thomas

    In Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson, the Rams have had only two feature backs since 1999, an unbroken string of excellence for 14 seasons.

    They made seven Pro Bowls between them. Jackson logged eight 1,000-yard rushing seasons; Faulk had three as a Ram. Faulk was league MVP in 2000, the NFL’s offensive player of the year three consecutive seasons (1999-2001) and a first ballot Hall of Famer (Class of 2011).

    They are the No. 1 (Jackson) and No. 3 (Faulk) career rushing leaders in franchise history, with Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson sandwiched in between.

    But now, with Jackson off to Atlanta via free agency after voiding the final year of his contract, someone new must step into the backfield. Will it be Alabama’s Eddie Lacy?

    Lacy, who paid a pre-draft visit to Rams Park on Tuesday, could be a Rams target in the first round of next week’s draft. At 5-11, 231, he has a big body but light feet not unlike former Rams (and Pittsburgh) great Jerome Bettis. Similar to Jackson, if you’re serious about bringing Lacy down, you better hit him low; high isn’t going to work.

    At the NFL scouting combine, Lacy was asked to describe his best attribute as a runner.

    “Just being able to be a powerful runner if I need to, or an agile runner and make people miss,” he replied.

    That’s a lethal combination, one that has Lacy almost universally acclaimed as the best running back in the 2013 draft and the only back worthy of a first-round selection one week from Thursday.

    Even so, like almost every elite prospect there are questions and doubts about Lacy in one area or another. He had a tendency to get nicked up at Alabama — more than nicked up, actually; in 2011 he hobbled through the year with a turf toe injury that required surgery after the season.

    This offseason, just before the combine in February, he suffered a hamstring injury during training. Originally, he hoped to run at Alabama’s March 13 pro day, but that turned out to be wishful thinking. Lacy didn’t run until last week, logging times from the mid-4.5s to low 4.6s in the 40-yard dash.

    To most observers, that was about as expected. To others it was slightly disappointing. Worse yet, some felt he was out of shape.

    Others play down his rushing feats on Alabama’s 2012 national championship team because of the stellar offensive line in front of him, a line that will feature two first-round draft picks April 25 in guard Chance Warmack and tackle D.J. Fluker.

    “I feel as though we complement each other because you have a great offensive line and you have a great backfield as well,” Lacy said. “So I don’t feel as if one position is doing good because of the other.”

    Keep in mind, too, that Alabama plays some of the nation’s toughest defensive fronts on almost a weekly basis. Watch and see how many Southeastern Conference defensive linemen and linebackers get drafted.

    Even Lacy’s first-round draft status is viewed almost as a negative. Running backs, the saying goes, can be found anywhere in the draft. And that’s true to a degree. Take 2012, for example. There were 16 running backs who gained 1,000 yards in the NFL last season.

    Among those 16, one was undrafted, one was a seventh-rounder, one was a sixth-rounder, five were third-rounders and two were second-rounders. But there were still more 1,000-yard rushers who were first-round picks in the group — six — than any other round.

    Like most premier running backs at Alabama under coach Nick Saban, Lacy had to wait his turn. Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram was followed by Heisman finalist Trent Richardson, who was followed by Lacy.

    Lacy wasn’t a starter until last season, his junior season, so he’s got low mileage entering the pros. By all accounts, he started somewhat slowly in 2012, perhaps still getting up to speed following the turf toe surgery. But what a finish. He rushed for 181 yards (at 9 yards a carry) and scored two touchdowns in the SEC championship game victory over Georgia. A Georgia defense, mind you, chock full of NFL draft prospects.

    Against Notre Dame’s vaunted run defense in the BCS title game, Lacy ran for 140 yards (7 yards a carry) and scored two TDs.

    For the season, he rushed for 1,322 yards (6.5 yards a carry) and scored 17 touchdowns. In theory, he could provide a big-back element in St. Louis now that Jackson’s gone. With Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson taking a share of the workload, Lacy wouldn’t necessarily have to be a workhorse. Coach Jeff Fisher’s knack for keeping his players fresh and minimizing injury might keep Lacy on the field and out of the training room.

    Other options at the position include UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin, Florida’s Mike Gillislee and South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, all three of whom made pre-draft visits to Rams Park. Franklin had a monster season for the Bruins last season. Like Lacy, Gillislee didn’t become a feature back until 2012 and became the Gators’ first 1,000-yard runner since 2004 (or Steven Jackson’s rookie year in the NFL).

    Lattimore could begin the year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list because of his severe knee injury last season. Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell had a “suite” visit with the Rams at the scouting combine and also had a private film study meeting with the Rams at his pro day. At 230 pounds, he certainly fills the big-back mode.

    Additionally, the Rams have shown interest in Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy, who became the first runner in that school’s history to log back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Locally, there’s always Wisconsin’s Montee Ball of Timeberland High in Wentzville. With his NCAA record 83 career touchdowns, Ball could become a walking first-aid kit for what ails the Rams in the red zone.


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    Re: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    I watched some video on Lacy Bell and Ball and most of the top; guys and I don't think Lacy is anything special.. Bell has the bigger back mold that can get the short yards, but doesn't wow you either....

    I watched the top 6-7 ranked RBs over and over......there was one guy that stood out over Ball, Franklin, Bell, Lacy.....he was:

    Giovani Bernard --- man this guy is tough.....

    I would love a draft of Patterson, Hunter, Bernard top 3 picks....

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    Re: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    Even though Lacy probably wouldn't drop to us in the 2nd, I wouldn't want to use a first round pick on him. I just don't think he's worth it. If you are going to use a 1st on a running back, you better be pretty sure that he can be a feature back, and not a committee back, otherwise it's a waste of a pick.
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    Re: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    Quote Originally Posted by berg8309 View Post
    Even though Lacy probably wouldn't drop to us in the 2nd, I wouldn't want to use a first round pick on him. I just don't think he's worth it. If you are going to use a 1st on a running back, you better be pretty sure that he can be a feature back, and not a committee back, otherwise it's a waste of a pick.
    yeah, I think there are quite a few guys you could get in Round 2 with really good value....and not a get disparity from the round 1 guys.....

    heck even to round 3 and later
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    Re: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    I agree with berg; if we're going with a committee approach that involves a time share between 2-3 guys at the position, then I don't see a reason to really look at any running back before the third round. First and second rounders should be full time starters, not situational players; heck, you could argue a third rounder should be a full time starter as well, really. I do not believe you're getting a good return on your pick investment if you're drafting a guy that high to not be an every down type of player.

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    Re: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    Quote Originally Posted by richtree View Post
    I watched some video on Lacy Bell and Ball and most of the top; guys and I don't think Lacy is anything special.. Bell has the bigger back mold that can get the short yards, but doesn't wow you either....

    I watched the top 6-7 ranked RBs over and over......there was one guy that stood out over Ball, Franklin, Bell, Lacy.....he was:

    Giovani Bernard --- man this guy is tough.....


    I would love a draft of Patterson, Hunter, Bernard top 3 picks....
    hm, got the punt returner award, cool
    and first thing...why the fudge does UNC have a helmet with a foot on it with tar on the heel...oh yea teehee a tar heel...no...stop....horrible

    anyway, after seeing a bit, i think he's okay for a back, good at making cuts, but doesn't really stand out to me, good punt returner, although he muffed a few (who doesn't?)

    still lookin

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    Re: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    I agree with berg and Nick, using a high round draft pick for a part time player does not make sense. But I'm not sure I'm totally buying what Fisher is selling. I'm not sure he wants a three back system. Heck if he did he struggled getting Pead playing time last year and he said often how hard it is to use three backs, not sure if he was protecting Pead or if its hard to work in three backs on a weekly basis.


    Shane Gray

    Fisher featured George in Tennessee through 2003, George's final year there, where he rushed for over 1,000 yards at the age of 30. In eight featured seasons as a starter in Tennessee, George had 2,733 carries.In eight seasons in St. Louis, seven as a starter, Jackson has had 2,138 carries—595 fewer than George.
    If Fisher thinks he can get a bell cow, I would not be surprised to see him draft one. He would still have Pead and D rich as change of peace backs.
    Last edited by Rambos; -04-17-2013 at 05:04 PM.

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    Re: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    How about we continue to build a deep and dominant O-line, and we can have 3 bell cows. I don't see us burning a high pick on a running back in this draft as there doesn't seem to be an all world running back available. I guess we will find out soon enough. I'd rather have D.J. Fluker than Lacy ..
    Nick, THOLTFAN81 and DE_Ramfan like this.

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    Re: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    Jim Thomas keeps repeating this Lacy idea. Either he's being fed an opinion that the Rams really like him or they actually do really like him. I'm doubtful he's coming up with it on his own and repeating it so often.

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    Re: 'Bama back could be next in line behind Jackson, Faulk

    Marcus Lattimore in the third/fourth. That is all.

    Considering he is one of only a few RBs we hosted, I think we are definitely interested.

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