Another in a periodic series examining the roles of NFC North newcomers:
Running back Eddie Lacy figures to absorb the majority of attention on the Green Bay Packers' draft class, considering his national name recognition and his status as the Packers' second-round pick. Lacy especially figures to overshadow the other running back drafted by the Packers, at least initially.
Franklin is lighter (by 26 pounds) and faster than Lacy (a 4.49 time in the 40-yard dash versus 4.6). Those attributes helped make Franklin one of college football's most prolific breakaway tailbacks over the past two seasons, but you might also be surprised with how nifty of a runner he was as well.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Franklin accumulated 30 rushes of 20 or more yards since the start of the 2011 season, tying with Wisconsin's Montee Ball for the most in the FBS over that period. Last season, meanwhile, he averaged 7.4 yards per carry on runs outside of the tackles. That average was substantially higher than Ball (6.2) and Lacy (4.5), among most other college runners.
But Franklin didn't amass those runs as a speedster. As the chart shows, he ranked fourth in college football last season with 765 yards after first contact. He also led the country with 23 broken tackles, based on ESPN Stats & Information analysis.
Those are the kind of numbers you would have expected from a bulldozer like Lacy. Our friends at Scouts Inc. wrote that Franklin "lacks ideal power," but there are plenty of other ways to break tackles and/or make defenders miss. In college, at least, Franklin got it done.
Earlier: The Detroit Lions could follow a template for easing in young, inexperienced pass-rushers. The Minnesota Vikings know they need to have a plan for receiver Cordarrelle Patterson's rookie season.