There are lots of experts and talking heads speculating about the order of this year’s draft. Yes, I too, am guilty as charged. Last week, I made a case for Eddie Lacy, the big bruising national champion that many reckon will fall in the later portion of the first round.
Lacy had been recovering from a hamstring injury and missed both Alabama’s pro day and the combine. On Thursday, he finally stepped out on the field and gave the NFL a taste of what he was capable of… and the reviews could not be more mixed!
Lacy looked winded often on Thursday and could not finish his positional workout. He also managed to lose about 12 pounds. He claimed it was the most action he’d seen since his injury. Others questioned his work ethic and wondered why he wasn’t more prepared for his big day. His most notable is that he ran forties in 4.57 and 4.60 which is faster than most scouts expected. The sentiment was that he’d clock in somewhere around 4.62 or higher.
Also impressive if you’re a Broncos fan is that his hands, something he wasn’t able to showcase in Alabama, were very reliable. Sure, he had a couple of bobbled catches but he didn’t didn’t drop anything. He looked comfortable in the role of receiver which is a character Peyton Manning will undoubtedly require him to play.
The combination of his speed (a 4.57 at 230 pounds is certainly a reason to be impressed) and his hands but ultimately his lack of conditioning speaks volumes about the mixed emotions Lacy’s performance has generated. Still, conditioning and recovering from injury are difficult notions to juxtapose. Lacy hasn’t been on a football field in any type of game like scenario in four months and he has been injured. Isn’t conditioning something that can be worked on over the summer as he fully recovers. Why was no one questioning his work ethic when he ran for 17 TD’s and over 1300 yards? His offensive line was definitely incredible but it’s not as though Lacy was sitting on a recliner with a bag of nachos waiting for hand offs.
The bigger issue is that the Broncos seem to be more interested in grabbing a defensive player in round one. Normally, you’ll never hear me complain about that. However, if Lacy is there at 28 and the Broncos still have that pick twelve days from now there is absolutely no way this team can leave him on the board. While many are nervous about life post Elvis Dumervil, let’s reflect back on the heartbreaking AFC Divisional loss to the Ravens. With only Ronnie Hillman left to pass block and carry the load, Denver’s offense screached to a halt late in the game.
That’s not a knock on Hillman nor was it all his fault. He’s not an every down back and he fought as hard as he could in a role he is not designed to play. Late in a game when you’re up a touchdown, you should be able to turn to a power back to eat the clock and end the game. The problem is the Broncos no longer have a reliable running back to play that role. One is too fragile and one is too old. One should be dismissed and the other could be a mentor… but Lacy? He could be the future.