Unpacking Future Packers: No. 69, Missouri RB Cody Schrader

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects who could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2024 NFL draft.

If the Green Bay Packers don’t re-sign AJ Dillon, they’ll have to find a new running mate for Aaron Jones.

A running back that Brian Gutekunst could target during the 2024 NFL Draft is Cody Schrader. The Missouri running back checks in at No. 69 in the Unpacking Future Packers Countdown.

A transfer from Truman State University, Schrader rushed for 744 yards and nine touchdowns during his first season as a Missouri Tiger. This past season, Schrader rushed for an SEC-leading 1,627 yards and 14 touchdowns. 

“He may not be burning by SEC defensive backs, but when Schrader saw a hole this season, he hit it with purpose and explosiveness,” Parker Gillam, the Missouri beat writer for said. “The man that always falls forward utilized his great vision and ability to run through arm tackles and became the SEC’s leading rusher in 2023, highlighted by dominant performances against Tennessee and Arkansas. As the game went on, Schrader only appeared to get stronger while the opposing defense grew tired of hitting him. Thus, he would generally take the will out of the opposition by the time the final whistle blew.”

Schrader has good vision and is a patient runner. He can get skinny and explode through the hole.  He has quick feet and the lateral agility to hit cutback lanes without throttling down. He runs low to the ground and runs with toughness. This past season he picked up 851 yards after contact and forced 51 missed tackles. 

The Missouri native has some home run ability and can hit his top speed quickly. According to Pro Football Focus, Schrader ripped off 39 runs of 10-plus yards.

“His physical tools, such as a low center of gravity, elite leg drive and ability to shake off arm tackles stand out, but this comes down to mindset,” Gillam said. “Schrader’s sheer determination is rivaled by few, and it takes someone with equal strength and willpower to bring him down in a one-on-one scenario.”

Schrader finished his two-year stint as a Tiger with 41 receptions for 328 yards. He has reliable hands out of the backfield (one drop this past season). 

“He certainly developed in that regard in 2023, as he was not much of a factor in the passing game prior,” Gillam said. “He lined up at slot a decent amount, and Kirby Moore made a point to get him some touches out of the backfield. I can’t see him becoming an Austin Ekeler-type in this regard, but he’s serviceable enough to keep on the field in pass-down scenarios. He’s deadly on screen passes given his open-field ability.”

Schrader went from a walk-on at Missouri to a team captain. He’s a leader and a player that will impress during the interview process. The Missouri product is a player that the running backs coach will be pounding the table for when Day 3 of the draft rolls around. 

“He’s one of the most genuinely determined, team-oriented and nicest individuals I’ve ever come across,” Gillam said. “His story from the D-II ranks is well-documented, and his off-field character is top-notch. As Jaylon Carlies, a Missouri safety put it, “When he talks, everybody listens.” The most impressive thing about Cody Schrader in my eyes? The way he carries himself off the field is completely evident in the way he plays on the field.”

Fit with the Packers

Dillon is set to hit free agency. Jones is going to be 30 years old in December and is entering the final year of his contract. Add it all up and Gutekunst will likely add a pair of running backs in the upcoming draft.

Schrader runs with good tempo and is capable of ripping off chunk plays. He showcased this past season that he’s capable of handling a full workload and would be an excellent addition to any running back room.

“I’d take a chance on him because Eliah Drinkwitz did the same thing and was well-rewarded,” Gillam said. “A major headline revolving around running backs nowadays is health and longevity. Schrader played nearly all of the 2023 season with a variety of injuries yet didn’t miss a single game and played at a high-level regardless. He’s proven that he’s able to hold up against the weekly grind of SEC football, which is the closest thing to the NFL that you can find.

On top of that, his versatility means that, even if he doesn’t become an every-down back, he can provide a spark for a team that will also bring a great locker-room presence along with him. There are zero character concerns, plenty of upside and a track record of being productive in a high-caliber league. Schrader will never be the flashiest player, but he’s overcome every challenge set before him thus far, so what’s the NFL going to throw at him that he can’t handle?”

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire