Eddie Lacy got the first laugh, but will he get the last one?
The Green Bay Packers' running back, named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year on Saturday by the Associated Press at the NFL Honors awards show at Radio City Music Hall in New York, showed in his first season that he could largely withstand the bruising that he’s prone to taking as a between-the-tackles, power runner.
But that’s not necessarily why teams passed on Lacy, and the Packers were able to select him in the second round with the 61st overall pick.
Rather, teams were concerned about how long he would last, both because of his bruising running style and his injury history. Specifically, some teams were scared off by Lacy’s toe surgery before his final season at Alabama. One NFL scout familiar with his team’s medical report on Lacy said his team had serious concerns about how long it would be before Lacy’s toe gave out.
Lacy, who already had been named rookie of the year by the Professional Football Writers of America, rushed for a Packers’ rookie record of 1,178 yards. He broke John Brockington’s Packers rookie rushing record. Brockington was the last Green Bay player to win the AP’s offensive rookie of the year award. Lacy missed one start and nearly two full games because of a concussion, and played through a late-season ankle injury.
Though their rookie seasons were more than 40 years apart, it’s worth wondering if Lacy will be more productive over the long haul than Brockington, who had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his first three years (which were 14-game regular seasons) but then quickly tapered off.
In his first three seasons, Brockington averaged 5.1, 3.7 and 4.3 yards per carry while rushing for 1,105, 1,027, and 1,144 yards, respectively. He never averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry after that, and his subsequent season totals dropped from 883 rushing yards to 434 and 406 before the Packers released him after the first game of the 1977 season.