The primary roles of the running back is to receive hand offs from the quarterback and run for positive yards, preferably for at least a 4 yard average. In addition, running backs must be able to catch passes out of the backfield and finally, when called upon to pass block for the quarterback in the event that there is an all-out red-dog-blitz.
There are three different types of running backs. Teams usually have a half back or tailback, a full back and a goal line back. Usually the goal line back is the full back, but this is not always the case. For example, you may see the Packers hand the ball of to John Kuhn (fullback) near the goal line or they may give it to Eddie lacy to punch the ball into the end zone. The point, the goal line back must have great upper body strength and powerful legs. Finally, running backs may also be seen on special teams returning kicks or punts.
Now, let's breakdown and examine the depth chart for the Green Bay Packers running backs.
#27 Eddie Lacy
RB, 5'-11", 230 lbs, 25 years old, 3 years of NFL experience, Drafted 2nd Rd 2013, Alabama
It's obvious to most Packers fans that Eddie is not only the Green Bay Packers best running back, since Ahman Green. He is also considered by many NFL fans to be one of the better backs in the league. If he rushes for 1,100 yards or more this season, he will join two other Packers legends in this club...Ahman Green and Jim Taylor. Given the Packers offensive line play, I expect Lacy to rush for 1,100 yards plus this year. The trick here is to make sure he is fresh by the end of the year when the snow starts to blow and the wind begins to bite.
#44 James Starks
RB, 6'-2", 218 lbs. 29 years old, 6 years NFL experience, Drafted 6th Rd 2010, Buffalo
Starks has been very reliable when backing up or replacing an injured Lacy. His best year was in 2010 when he was the ground game for the Green Bay Packers push to the Super Bowl. He made some huge plays during that playoff run. The game against Atlanta, in Atlanta, comes to mind. He seemed unstoppable. During the 2010 post season he carried the ball 81 times for 315 yards. Age is beginning to creep in, but he should remain the #2 back behind Eddie this year. Next year, who knows where James Starks will land.
#34 Rajion Neal
RB, 5'-11", 220 lbs. 23 years old, 1 year of NFL experience, Free Agent 2014, Tennessee
Rajion (pronounced RAY-jhon) is an interesting prospect. He has had a bumpy road with the Packers. He was on the practice squad the final 8 games and for the playoffs last year. He was released and then resigned by Green Bay in January 2015. He was originally signed in May 2014, placed on IR August 27, 2014 and then subsequently released on August 27, 2014. He resigned with GB and placed on practice squad in November. If he can stay healthy during the pre-season, he has a really good chance of being the #3 back for Green Bay in 2015.
#38 John Crockett
RB, 6'-0", 217 lbs., 23 years old, NFL Rookie, Free Agent 2015, North Dakota State
Crockett was not drafted, but did receive a ton of attention during the draft. Many general managers and coaches called him to let him know of their interest in the young kid from NDSU. In fact, ESPN had a television camera and crew in his home the final day of the draft, but was not selected by any team. Then the Pack came calling and he signed with them a day or two after the draft concluded. His senior year he rushed for 1,994 yards and 21 TD's. Easily the most recognizable free agent rookie among the 17 and will definitely push Neal and Harris for the #3 position. My prediction: Crockett beats out both and will be the 3rd back for GB.
#46 Alonzo Harris
RB, 6'-1", 237 lbs., 22 years old, NFL Rookie, Free Agent 2015, Louisiana-Lafayette
Played for the "Ragin' Cajuns" and amassed 3,330 yards (a 4.7 yd ave) over his college career. In 49 career college games he scored 44 TD's. Impressive to say the least, but his chances of making the roster are ultra slim, given the competition. If Neal can't stay healthy, and Crockett a bust, then Harris is the next best option as the #3 running back for Green Bay.
#30 John Kuhn
FB, 6'-0", 250 lbs., 32 years old, 10 years of NFL experience, Waiver Wire 2007, Shippensburg
This will be Kuhn's last year as a Green Bay Packer. He is 32 years old and a step slower. However, he is a fan favorite and a favorite of McCarthy's. I do not expect Kuhn to be cut this year, because he is still an excellent blocker for Eddie Lacy and a pretty darn good special teams player.
#22 Aaron Ripkowski
FB, 6'-1", 246 lbs., 22 years old, NFL Rookie, Drafted 6th Rd 2015, Oklahoma
This is a kid who I really like, but he has to hold onto the football better than pictured. He has powerful legs and big time upper body strength. He is a bruising back with a vicious stiff arm. Played football at Oklahoma, which is known for producing big running backs. Ripkowski fits the Packers run zone blocking scheme and other blocking schemes well, but will have to improve on his pass blocking, if he wants to beat out John Kuhn for the #1 fullback position.
Next, I will breakdown the Packers depth chart at the wide receiver position. Until then #GoPackGo