Saturday, April 27, 2013
Packers flood zone with Johnathan Franklin
By Kevin Seifert
Well then. Consider the Green Bay Packers' backfield on notice.
After going 43 consecutive games without a runner hitting 100 yards, the Packers have grabbed two of the top feature backs in the 2013 draft. Alabama's Eddie Lacy was their second-round pick Friday night, and on Saturday the Packers traded up in the fourth round to grab UCLA's Johnathan Franklin.
Those moves make it unlikely that the Packers will re-sign veteran Cedric Benson, who visited Lambeau Field last week, and makes you wonder who among their current stable will make it out of training camp. Veteran James Starks might have seen his luck run out, and perhaps Alex Green as well. The Packers have spoken highly of DuJuan Harris' future, but that was before they selected two of the first four running backs taken in this draft.
There was some pre-draft talk that Franklin, who rushed for 1,734 yards last season, was pushing Lacy as the top runner in this draft. He ran his 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and had the best 60-yard shuttle time among running backs.
We'll have plenty of time discuss Franklin's individual strengths and weaknesses. Importantly, he is a much different back than Lacy and the Packers suddenly have a wealth of options at a position they have typically given only second thoughts to. It is an aggressive approach by general manager Ted Thompson, one not unlike his decision to open the 2012 draft with six consecutive defensive players. He has flooded the zone, so to speak, and it makes a lot of sense.