With the departure of Eddie Lacy, the Green Bay Packers are missing a bruising presence in the backfield. While the team is certainly happy with the progress of wide receiver turned running back, Ty Montgomery, the rest of the running back corps is run-of-the-mill at best. Christine Michael and Don Jackson have resigned, but neither provide a ton of insurance in the case of a Montgomery injury.
Several running backs have been mocked to the Packers in the first round of the NFL draft including Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook. However, the Packers are unlikely to use a first-round pick on a running back given their defensive needs and the increasing risk of selecting players with such a short shelf-life with a premium draft pick. Moreover, both McCaffrey and Cook are too similar to what the Packers already have in Montgomery, a runner/receiver player with versatility in the backfield and lining up out wide.
That’s where D’Onta Foreman and Samaje Perine come in. Both players are big, athletic backs who can provide a thumping presence in the Green Bay backfield.
D’Onta Foreman managed to rack up 184.4 rushing yards and 15 TDs last season, his junior year at Texas. At 6′ and somewhere in the neighborhood of 235-240 pounds, Foreman has the ability push piles in the NFL. His running style certainly shares some similarities with Lacy, particularly Foreman’s ability to bounce off of tacklers and keep his feet churning.
Foreman also exhibits some incredible agility and quickness for a player of his size. He’s shown the ability at the collegiate level to outrun linebackers and get past the first and second layers of a defense.
Foreman does, however, seem to rely upon his agility more than his size. NFL coaches will want to see him strengthen up and gain a nose for contact at the next level. Foreman also struggled with turnovers and pass blocking last season.
However, as a projected third-rounder, the Packers might see Foreman’s upside as worthy of the pick, especially if he can develop in a secondary role to Montgomery. Foreman looks to have what it takes to someday be a lead running back at the professional level.
Samaje Perine played second fiddle to Joe Mixon at Oklahoma, but the 5’11”, 235 pound back has serious strength to play a complimentary role in the NFL. Perine put up 30 reps in his bench press, overshadowing many of the offensive linemen at the combine. The guy is just a beast to bring down, running low and into contact with all of that strength and body mass.
On the negative side, Perine lacks the speed and agility to be a primary back in the NFL. While he has a nice burst out of the backfield, he’s not going to outrun defensive players at the second or third level (he ran a 4.65 40). He also lacks any real ability to quickly make adjustments or change direction. In this sense, Perine is a bit of a one-trick-pony, but he’s very good at what he does. He does have the ability to make some catches out of the backfield, and he certainly has the ability to excel as a pass blocker.
Perine may have a lower ceiling that Foreman, but he’s also slated to be available in the fourth round. If the Packers want to build around Montgomery, Perine would be a perfect, relatively low-cost option for short yardage and goal line situations.
In part II, I will highlight a couple of fifth or even sixth round backs who could also help to round out the Packers’ offensive backfield and fill in the large hole left by the departure of Eddie Lacy.
Taylor O\'Neill is a Packer fan born and raised in Oshkosh, WI. He currently lives in Florida and is pursuing his PhD. Taylor is a writer with PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TaylorONeill87 for more Packer news.