Eddie Lacy has become a mean-spirited meme.
We all have seen them, but they overshadow two productive seasons with the Green Bay Packers. In his rookie season, Lacy had 1,435 scrimmage yards with 11 touchdowns. He followed that season up with 1,566 scrimmage yards and 13 touchdowns.
Lacy’s first two seasons in the league were what we expected from a player who ran all over Notre Dame in the 2013 National Championship. But his production took a dip during his third year, and he was out of the league at age 27.
He gave Packers fans two years of good memories and the occasional highlight-reel play. But there are players who are still in the league who were on the board when Green Bay took Lacy in the second round in 2013.
What would the future have looked like if the Packers didn’t draft Eddie Lacy?
In order to determine what the Pack missed out on, we’re only gonna look at players who were projected to go in the second or third round of the 2013 draft. This list does not include late-round steals that no team was going to take in the second round.
Lacy went 61st overall in 2013. Two picks later, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Travis Kelce. We all know what he turned out to be. The most perplexing thing about all of this is that the Packers were in need of a tight end at the time.
Green Bay’s depth chart consisted of Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, and Brandon Bostick back then. Finley was on the tail end of his career, and though he was consistently average to above average, the Packers should have done some more homework on Kelce. If the Packers had made the correct choice when they were on the clock, perhaps Rodgers wouldn’t have been nearly as frustrated as he is now given that he would have had a First-Team All-Pro tight end to draw attention away from Davante Adams.
Sure, you could argue that the need for a running back was more important than the need for a tight end, but hindsight is 20/20, right?
Also, given the average career length of running backs, most teams are skeptical of taking them high in the draft. We have actually seen it work out quite well recently with players like Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Saquon Barkley, but most teams try using multi-back offenses to mitigate costs and injury risk.
It wasn’t just Kelce, though. In perhaps what was the steal of the 2013 draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected Tyrann Mathieu in the third round. Mathieu has been nothing shy of incredible in his NFL career, posting 464 solo tackles and 70 passes defended. At the time, some scouts were saying that Mathieu would be the steal of the draft, and they were right. Perhaps if the Packers had selected Mathieu he could have helped in the NFC Championship secondary meltdown.
Lastly, seven picks after Mathieu, the then-San Diego Chargers selected Keenan Allen. It’s interesting to think of the butterfly effect it may have had. If the Packers had pulled the trigger on Allen in 2013, they may not have drafted Adams in 2014. The Packers would look completely different if this were to happen.
Ironically, the Packers may have actually gotten more production out of Allen earlier on in his career. Unlike Adams, Allen made an immediate impact, recording a 1,000-yard season as a rookie. Adams only had 446 yards in his first season and didn’t break out until Year 3. Perhaps even having Allen playing at such a high level would have helped push the Packers past the Seahawks in the 2015 NFC Championship. But then again, who knows.
Though it took Adams a longer time to develop into the receiver he is today, and he had two 997-yard receiving seasons, Allen has actually had been a slightly more consistent receiver than Adams has been. In no way am I saying I would take Allen over Adams, but given his early-career production, it’s worth considering what would have happened if the Packers had selected Allen.
Clearly, it is easy to criticize the draft mistakes of the past. Like I said before, hindsight is 20/20, and no one has better hindsight than NFL fans. It’s impossible to go back and change the mistakes of the past, but it is always fun (and a little tragic) to think of what could have happened.