Packers draft preview: Finding depth at RB behind one-two punch

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Zach Kruse
·3 min read
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The Green Bay Packers will go into the 2021 NFL draft with 10 draft picks and a chance to build on a talented roster that finished 13-3 and advanced to the NFC title game for the second straight season in 2020. Like last year, GM Brian Gutekunst has three picks in the top 100 selections and seven Day 3 picks.

Packers Wire’s position-by-position draft preview rolls on at running back:

On the roster

Aaron Jones: 26 years old, signed through 2024 A.J. Dillon: 22 years old, signed through 2023 Dexter Williams: 24 years old, signed through 2021 Patrick Taylor: 22 years old, signed through 2022 Mike Weber: 23 years old, signed through 2021 Notes: The Packers re-signed Jones to a four-year deal but lost backup Jamaal Williams to the Detroit Lions. Tyler Ervin, listed as a running back, is also a free agent and could depart.

Short term need

Low. Jones and Dillon form an impressive one-two punch and should handle most of the touches at running back in 2021. Williams and Weber both spent most of last season on the practice squad, providing some returning depth, and Taylor will be healthy after a redshirt rookie season. The Packers could still use a legitimate third running back for this season, mostly as insurance against an injury to Jones or Dillon. On multiple occasions, coach Matt LaFleur has referenced the need for three capable running backs on the roster. And don't discount losing Jamaal Williams, a spark plug who could do a little bit of everything. The Packers might want to find another four-down back in his mold.

Long term need

Moderate. While Jones officially signed a four-year deal, it's effectively a two-year agreement. By early 2023, the Packers will have to make another decision on his future. Finding a running back worth developing into a future starter might be a priority for LaFleur and the Packers. With no clear No. 3 on the roster and future need visible, this might be the year for the Packers to supplement the position with a mid-round draft pick.

Chances of drafting the position

Moderate. There isn't a pressing need here, but the makeup of the position allows room for the Packers to pounce if a good running back is available during the draft, especially in the middle rounds. A player capable of playing some of the Tyler Ervin roles – both on offense and special teams – could be appealing. Overall, drafting running backs on Day 3 is a smart, cheap way of building out the position and stacking talent for the run game. The Packers have selected at least one running back in three of the last four drafts.

Depth of draft class

Good. There might not be a transcendent player at the top of the class, but plenty of capable runners should be available for teams throughout Day 3 of the draft. This middle-round depth aligns nicely with the Packers, a team that doesn't need to target a running back on the first two days. If the Packers want another runner on Day 3, they'll have attractive options.

Options, and the last RB drafted

A few potential options for the Packers at running back in the draft class: – Trey Sermon, Ohio State – Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State – Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana – Chris Evans, Michigan – Jarret Patterson, Buffalo – Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State – Kylin Hill, Mississippi State – Jake Funk, Maryland Last running back drafted by the Packers: A.J. Dillon, second round, 2020

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