As he enters the final year of his rookie contract, running back Aaron Jones is likely entering his final year in Green Bay simultaneously. Following the 2020 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers believe they are getting ahead of the curve by drafting a replacement running back when the current one is expecting a lofty second contract. The Packers surely believe AJ Dillon is the right choice after using a second-round pick on him. If he isn’t, the offense will take a hit.
Some teams can build their run game around fourth and fifth rounders, much like the Packers are currently. However, they didn’t wait this time around and got their guy early on hoping for a larger return on investment.
In 2016, Green Bay found two starting-caliber on day three of the draft in Jones and Jamaal Williams. Many thought the Packers would do the same either this year or next. Instead, they are allowing Dillon a year to adjust rather than thrusting a rookie into a starting role right away. The logic is hard to argue with.
Although, Dillon might be ready to contribute right away. He was a workhorse for Boston College, starting all three years. A productive college career helped him to 4,382 rushing yards on 845 carries and 38 rushing touchdowns.
If Dillon inevitably the starter post-Jones, fans will quickly notice a difference in the run game. Jones is a slasher. He enjoyed a breakout year during 2019, in which he led the entire league with 19 touchdowns. He also put up career highs in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and receiving yards.
Meanwhile, Dillon is more like Williams- a downhill runner that will run through you before he runs around you. The team probably hopes Dillon develops into what they hoped Williams would.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, Dillon still has a lot to prove. Mainly if he can be an every-down back. His mileage is higher than most prospects for his position, and he was rarely utilized in the passing game in college. To be in the Packers backfield, you must be capable in pass protection and also a threat as a receiver.
To his credit, Dillon enters the league as a more polished prospect than both Jones and Williams. His size, speed, and athleticism are just part of why he was so attractive to Green Bay when in fact his rushing style leans into the offense the Packers appear to be aiming for.
Come wintertime at Lambeau Field, opposing defenses are not going to enjoy standing toe to toe with Dillon.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.