AJ Dillon Could Have Eddie Lacy Like Impact

AJ Dillon could see Eddie Lacy like production as the starter.  

The Green Bay Packers drafted AJ Dillon in the second-round last year, believing he could be an eventual starter. With the way the salary cap is setting up, that could be as soon as next season. If Dillon is the starting running back in 2021, he could be primed for a similar season to the one former Packers running back Eddie Lacy had his rookie year. Looking back at Lacy’s 2013 campaign may offer a glimpse into what Dillon’s numbers could look like as the starter.

Like Dillon, Lacy was a second-round pick, but their rookie seasons were very different. Lacy was immediately called on to be the workhorse in Green Bay’s backfield. He rushed for a career-high 1,178 yards on 284 attempts (4.1 yards per attempt), and 11 touchdowns.  Lacy was named the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year for his production, earning 35 out of 50 first-place votes.

Last season, Dillon sat behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. He saw very little playing time as he got acclimated to a new offense. However, when he saw his opportunities, Dillon proved he could be relied upon.

Both Jones and Williams are set to be unrestricted free agents, and neither has made much progress toward a second contract in Green Bay. That’s where Dillon comes in. The Packers used last year’s 62nd overall pick on Dillon in case they needed him to be the starter in 2021.

Dillon had a solid year in 2020 despite only 46 carries. He rushed for 242 yards, two touchdowns, and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. In week 16, he had his best game as a pro against the Tennessee Titans. In our first glimpse of Dillon in a starting role, we saw him rush for 124 yards on 21 attempts and a pair of touchdowns. Dillon had arrived.

There’s no reason that Dillon couldn’t have more 100-yard performances when he becomes the starter. Going back to Lacy, he had four games where he eclipsed at least 100-yards rushing as a rookie. That is a mark Dillon could definitely get to in 2021, however, Lacy received a total of 284 handoffs. Aaron Rodgers missed seven games in 2013, which factored into Lacy’s workload.

Dillon may not see 284 carries when he becomes the starter, but that doesn’t mean he can’t reach the 1,000-yard mark in a season. Lacy averaged only 4.1 yards per attempt in 2013. 200 carries in 16 games would get Dillon to 1,000 yards if he can average 5.0 yards per carry. Obviously, that is much tougher to uphold when you are getting fed the ball, but Dillon could be capable of averaging close to 5.0 yards per carry throughout an entire season. He showed great balance and power as a rookie, which led to some good second-effort runs.

However, because Matt LaFleur prefers to spread out the touches for his running backs, it will be much tougher for him to get close to Lacy’s 1,178. 

Also, when Lacy won OROTY in 2013, Green Bay used James Starks to provide a change of pace when Lacy needed to catch his breath. The Packers don’t have a guy like that on the current roster, so they will need to find a rookie or inexpensive free agent, or both, to play the Starks role behind Dillon. Either way, Dillon is their guy.

He has all the physical tools to be the bell cow in Green Bay, but every backfield needs a stable. Dillon could probably handle 284 carries next season, but that probably isn’t what the Packers have in mind. When comparing Dillon and Lacy, they are similar in a lot of ways, but physical conditioning seems to be what separates them.

Hopefully, Dillon takes a different career path than Lacy even though they have similar styles and builds. Lacy struggled with weight issues that forced him out of Green Bay after 2016, but Dillon takes great cares of his body and used last season to learn behind two consummate professionals. Dillon now knows what it takes to be an NFL back, and he is certainly capable of handling a heavier workload. The end result could be numbers like we saw from Lacy in 2013.

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

NFL Categories: 
2 points

Comments (30)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PackEyedOptimist's picture

February 24, 2021 at 12:06 pm

I thought, even before the draft, that Dillon could be a great NFL RB. I think he'll surpass Lacey's play and be a great starter. I'm still hoping Jamaal Williams is resigned and plays the Starks role. There are quite a few "undersized" scatback types in this draft, and I hope the Packers take one to be RB3.

+ REPLY
9 points
10
1
Coldworld's picture

February 24, 2021 at 12:52 pm

Dillon certainly has the physique to support being a true lead back we haven’t had since Lacy. However, assuming he has the all round skills down, I don’t see him being used in this offense in quite the same way due to LaFleur’s approach of misdirection and personnel variance that was not part of MM’s philosophy.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
jannes bjornson's picture

February 24, 2021 at 05:04 pm

He is a superior runner, better than Lacy and has shown the hands to cover the wheel routes and the screen game. I would add two more RBs from this draft class to complement his power game.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Demon's picture

February 24, 2021 at 06:26 pm

Being a little.optimistic arent you? You must forget that Lacy was a pretty fair runner before he took up the Gilbert Brown workout regiment.

Nothing wrong with being hopeful, I too hope Dillon tears it up. It is a pretty small sample size to say Dillon is a superior runner to Lacy imo.

+ REPLY
-2 points
0
2
jannes bjornson's picture

February 24, 2021 at 06:31 pm

Dillon has better feet and a better history from the college ranks. He should have been used the entire second half against Tampa just to beat on them and settle the edges.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
Duneslick's picture

February 24, 2021 at 01:39 pm

Please ban poster

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
stockholder's picture

February 24, 2021 at 01:26 pm

After 5000 comments. I hope you are correct. I see Larry Csonka. If ever a guy was built to cram it down someones throat. Dillion is that guy.

+ REPLY
3 points
4
1
Duneslick's picture

February 24, 2021 at 01:38 pm

Administrator please ban Dankspendee and remove ths posts

+ REPLY
9 points
9
0
ricky's picture

February 24, 2021 at 01:39 pm

Dillon did indeed have a very good game against the Titans. But their team rushing defense ranked 24th in the league, at about 127 yards per game. It's good Dillon ran well, but he needs to be able to prove he can stay healthy and still gain yardage against better defenses. Can he? Sure. Will he? We'll see. I am hopeful, but also waiting to see what he offers when he is "the man."

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
Stroh's picture

February 24, 2021 at 07:39 pm

Health was never an issue in college even when Defenses were focused only on stopping him and he was running against 8 men in the box! Tell me the great defenses Jones ever had 100 yd games against. He can and he certainly will be very productive.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Lare's picture

February 24, 2021 at 02:31 pm

If AJ Dillon is the RB of the future for the Packers I would think he would have had more than 9 carries for 44 yards in the playoffs this past season.

We shall see.

+ REPLY
0 points
3
3
ShawnO's picture

February 24, 2021 at 02:44 pm

He was a rookie behind one of the best RBs in the league as well as another very talented, successful, and trusted RB by the coaches in Williams. Who would you have taken out of the game to give him more snaps?

+ REPLY
3 points
4
1
jannes bjornson's picture

February 25, 2021 at 05:51 am

He wasn't calling the plays. Tampa dudes didn't look to be excited to tackle him. LaFleur abandoned the heavy run way too soon.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
White92's picture

February 24, 2021 at 07:14 pm

I couldn't agree more. Especially after the 2 picks, Dillon should have been used as a hammer to break their souls

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
OnWisconsinGoPack's picture

February 24, 2021 at 04:37 pm

I think MLF's offense would be at its best with multiple RBs that can carry the load. I expect the Pack to address the position in the draft as well as in FA (Jamal or outside)

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Stroh's picture

February 24, 2021 at 07:46 pm

They'll certainly draft a RB , especially if they lose Jones. They will want a compliment who is smaller faster and better in the passing game. No real reason to bring Williams back, unless you lose Jones and want a veteran backup. But that's paying money to a career backup.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Lphill's picture

February 24, 2021 at 05:43 pm

Packers didn't seem to trust Dillon much in some games they needed shirt yardage in the red zone and let Jones get stopped for no gain , now Dillon is the man? Or does he just fit the budget.

+ REPLY
-4 points
2
6
Lphill's picture

February 24, 2021 at 05:43 pm

Packers didn't seem to trust Dillon much in some games they needed shirt yardage in the red zone and let Jones get stopped for no gain , now Dillon is the man? Or does he just fit the budget.

+ REPLY
-1 points
2
3
Stroh's picture

February 24, 2021 at 07:51 pm

They trusted him fine. They were getting the most out of Jones and Williams while they could. There just wasn't enough snaps to go around and they didn't need him. This year Dillon will get all the snaps he wants, other than maybe as a receiver.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
PhantomII's picture

February 24, 2021 at 09:05 pm

Another ML coaching head scratcher.

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
Stroh's picture

February 24, 2021 at 07:34 pm

I'd be disappointed if Dillon only has an effect similar to Lacy! I'm expecting him to surpass Lacy and by quite a bit. 1200 yds and 10 TDs minimum with a ceiling of 1600 yds and over 15 TDs.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
PhantomII's picture

February 24, 2021 at 09:15 pm

If the OL does their part he should be able to do his. Lazy had 2 good years. I'm hoping for more from him.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
Matt Gonzales's picture

February 25, 2021 at 09:38 am

Lacy also had asthma and persistent ankle issues. I suspect these played in to some of the weight and conditioning issues.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Stroh's picture

February 25, 2021 at 07:01 pm

That's bogus. Asthma abd ankles had nothing to do with Lacy's weight and conditioning! The Packers do have Dr's who would have him on whatever medication were necessary for Asthma. Ankle issues were probably caused by his lack of conditioning, not the other way around.

Lacy left Bama and Sabon where it was extremely structured and didn't have the discipline in the NFL to do what was required outside the Packers facilities!

BTW I'm speaking as a strength and conditioning expert who has asthma!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Bure9620's picture

February 25, 2021 at 05:08 am

This season is why Dillon was drafted, its his backfield. I see a very outside shot at resigning Williams to a team friendly deal but this is likely less than 50/50

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
murf7777's picture

February 25, 2021 at 06:51 am

Dillon is the real deal, it’s as obvious as snow in the tundra.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Since'61's picture

February 25, 2021 at 07:28 am

Dillon is going to play and get more carries in 2021 whether we re-sign Jones and Williams as well.
After 4 or 5 articles it’s beginning to appear as though Dillon is the only player that we have. Is a series on Daffney next?
Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
TarynsEyes's picture

February 25, 2021 at 09:54 pm

delete

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Rebecca's picture

February 26, 2021 at 06:38 pm

He had one good game. Let’s see Dillon play a full season with all the skills one needs to replace AJ/JW. Lots to learn yet. He has looked very good. Keeping my fingers crossed.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.