Judgements: Lacy, with something to prove, picked by right club

by | Senior NFL Columnist

Forget Geno Smith. The guy with something to prove is running back Eddie Lacy, and he's with the right team.

That would be Green Bay, the club that nine years ago rescued quarterback Aaron Rodgers after he plummeted through the first round, only to stop at the 24th spot. Rodgers promised then he would make teams that passed him regret their decisions, and he lived up to his promise.

Maybe he can help Lacy write a similar script.

All I know is that Lacy was supposed to be the first, not the fourth, back off the board, but potential suitors were scared off by something -- with one report citing it was more than a nagging hamstring injury; it was an alleged lack of "passion" for the pro game.

"I've talked to every team in the league about a 'lack of passion for the game,' " said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, "but I think this is mainly attributable to the 'medical' -- and he was very close to borderline, as far as a pass/fail medically.

"But that's what happens. Teams either have guys off the board, completely on the board or on the board with a reduced value -- and I think that's what happened to him ... a reduced value."

Maybe, but if I'm Green Bay I want to find out what Lacy offers. The Packers have a glaring need at the position, and, at the 61st spot, this is a low-risk move.

Look, the Packers just signed Rodgers to a reported $110 million deal, and they must protect their investment. One way is to find him better offensive linemen. Another is to find him a running game. Eddie Lacy might be the back to do just that.

2. Former New York Jets' wide receiver Wayne Chrebet, who announced the choice of Geno Smith, on what he thought when he first looked at the name on his card: "I thought, 'Oh, man.' I didn't know how they were going to react." No problem. Jets' fans loved it.

3. Hello, Cortland, N.Y.? This is ESPN. We'd like to book a hotel room for the month of August.

4. Hello, Mission Valley? This is ESPN2. We'd like to book a hotel room for the month of August. When Geno Smith comes off the field in Cortland, we can jump to live coverage at Chargers' camp with Manti Te'o.

5. I guess Geno Smith is glad he stuck around, but let's be honest: He had no choice. He called it "a test of patience," but, no, it wasn't. It was a test of fortitude. I mean, if he had cut and left the city, it would have told us something about how he reacts to adversity. So he didn't get chosen in the first round. Big deal. There are bigger hurdles to climb ... and Smith finds out when he reports to Jets' minicamp.

6. I loved Tony Casillas announcing the Cowboys' pick by saying Dallas is "still America's team." He knew the audience he was playing to, and he got what he expected -- boos galore.

7. Leave it Baltimore to dig up a starter in the second round. That's Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, the latest example of the Ravens having a solid player drop in their laps. Brown was a borderline first-rounder who lasted until the Ravens swooped in with the 56th pick, and good for them. Sooner or later, this guy starts.

8. A couple of things on the Branden Albert deal. If it's in fact dead -- and it looks that way -- no, Andy Reid won't repeat a Jeremiah Trotter and cut a disgruntled franchise player he couldn't trade. Second, if Albert plays this season for the Chiefs, either he or first-round pick Eric Fisher plays right tackle. When New Orleans drafted Hall-of-Fame tackle Willie Roaf he played his entire rookie season on the right side before switching to left tackle.

9. Nice of the New England Patriots to find a deep threat for Tom Brady. It only took them 59 picks to choose Aaron Dobson.

10. Tyler Eifert will wear number Ocho Cinco in Cincinnati. Somehow, I don't see him adopting the name, too.

11. Yes, Denver found its next back in Montee Ball, but isn't this the same guy Rashard Mendenhall mentioned when he visited the Broncos? He said he had fresher legs, and he might. Ball had an astounding 663 carries the past two years. Oh, yeah, he also had 55 TDs.

12. Just a hunch, but Seattle's latest running back, Christine Michael, is one tough SOB. He has to be with that first name.

13. Here's hoping defensive back Tyrann Mathieu makes it with the Cards. A scout I trust told me that when the Honey Badger met with clubs at the NFL scouting combine, he not only admitted to drug use but said he needs 24-hour, around-the-clock help to stay clean. "I really felt sorry for him," the scout said. "He's trying to straighten himself out." If Mathieu can make it, the Cards have themselves a steal at the 69th spot. I know it's a long shot, but it's worth taking.

14. I guess that answers the question of what St. Louis does for playmakers. Not only did the Rams grab the most explosive playmaker in the draft in Tavon Austion; they added his teammate, Stedman Bailey, too, and all you need to know about these two is that last year they combined for 228 catches, over 2,900 yards receiving, 656 yards rushing and 40 touchdowns rushing and receiving. Pass the word: The Greatest Show on Turf could be returning to a theatre near you.

15. Now that Tennessee has wide receiver Justin Hunter, maybe the Titans will wise up and get rid of Kenny Britt. I swear, the guy's more trouble than he's worth. At least this gives the Titans the option.

Five things I like

1. Linebacker Sion Moore's response to what Oakland was getting in the third-round pick: "One pissed-off linebacker." Hey, better to be pissed off than pissed on.

2. Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly taking Stanford tight end Zach Ertz. Hey, if you can't beat 'em (and Oregon couldn't), join them. Ertz is a playmaker who should make an immediate impact in Kelly's offense.

3. John Idzik's guts. The Jets' GM proved he wasn't afraid to make bold moves when he peddled star cornerback Darrelle Revis for two draft picks. Now he drives the point home by inviting the circus back to Cortland, with a full-blown quarterback mess that will be played out daily on the back pages of the Post and Daily News.

4. Tom Telesco's guts. The Chargers' GM is another one unafraid to make the tough call, choosing linebacker Manti Te'o with a second-round pick. It wasn't Te'o's off-the-field issue that was the concern; it was that last game with Alabama. If he can demonstrate that was an aberration (I mean, who played well for Notre Dame?) Telesco just made a name for himself. But let's not stop there. He chose Keenan Allen in the third round, too, and talk about value for the pick. I know he's not exactly a burner, and that's kind. But the guy's a playmaker, and somebody was going to take a chance. Telesco was that someone.

5. Steve Gleason announcing the Saints' third-round pick. Gleason's appearance in a wheelchair brought the Radio City audience to its feet, and it should. Class guy and a class move to have him on stage.

Five things I don't like

1. Geno Smith's uphill battle. So he steps in as the Jets' next quarterback. Tell me, outside of Santonio Holmes, what he does he have for playmakers? Someone? Anyone?

2. Blocking San Francisco's pass rush. Geez, the 49ers were tough enough to hold off. Now they go out and add Eric Reid, Tank Carradine and Corey Lemonier to a defense that already pressured the pocket, and I have one word for opposing quarterbacks: Duck.

3. Manti Te'o comparisons with Junior Seau. It's inevitable. Both play the inside linebacker position, and both were highly decorated in college. But cut Te'o some slack. He is not Seau. Nobody is. It's unfair to ask a guy to come in and assume the role of an enormously popular player who was the face of the Chargers' franchise. If there's an upside to Te'o's situation, it's this: He goes to a market where the media coverage won't be white-hot ... at least not as intense, as, say, what Smith is about to encounter in New York.

4. Anyone's chances vs. the NFC West. Live it up vs. Arizona, people, because the rest of the division is a minefield. St. Louis keeps making moves to bridge the gap between it and San Francisco and Seattle and now teams Austin with Bailey to keep defensive coordinators up at night. Now, if they can only find a running back.

5. How much money Matt Barkley cost himself by staying in school. Sorry, but this reminds me of Jake Locker all over again ... only much worse. Locker was chosen with the eighth pick of the 2011 draft. Barkley is still waiting for his name to be called, and one suggestion, Matt: Contact Tom Brady. He can tell you what that's like.

Just asking, but ...

When does Matt Barkley come off the board?

Where's the bigtop bigger -- the Chargers or the Jets?

Does Tyrann Mathieu make it with the Cards?

Does anyone believe Chris Ivory solves the Jets' running game?

Is Mike Glennon a threat to Josh Freeman?

Biggest winners

1. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He gets a new contract that reportedly pays him $62.5 million the first three years, including $40 million in the first season. Suddenly, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning look like steals.

2. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. He not only was drafted; he was drafted to be the Jets' next starting quarterback. As former quarterback Kurt Warner said on the NFL Network, "I think Mark Sanchez will be there. And he will be holding a clipboard." That's a big 10-4.

3. Cincinnati. Once upon a time, the Bengals were one of the NFL's most overworked punchlines. Not anymore. They're quietly assembling another outstanding cast of draft picks, adding tight end Tyler Eifert, running back Giovani Bernard and defensive end Margus Hunt with their first three picks. Nice.

4. Mississippi State cornerback Darius Slay. He was supposed to go after teammate Johnthan Banks. He didn't. Instead he was the fourth player taken in the second round -- or seven spots ahead of Banks.

5. Buffalo wide receiver Stevie Johnson. It's about time he got some outside help, and Buffalo didn't just deliver a big-time playmaker in Robert Woods; it added a burner and deep threat in Marquise Goodwin. Coach Doug Marrone knows how tough Woods is to defend ... because he couldn't do it at Syracuse. Woods had 169 yards from scrimmage, including a 76-yard run, and two touchdowns in a 42-29 defeat of the Orange.

Biggest losers

1. New York Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez. Time to find a realtor, Mark. The end is near.

2. Jets' beat writers. Last summer it was Sanchez-Tim Tebow. Now this.

3. The universities of Miami, Nebraska and Michigan. There were players drafted from Central Michigan, Florida International, South Florida and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. So tell me how many times we heard someone from Miami, Nebraska or Michigan called? Try zero.

4. USC quarterback Matt Barkley. A year ago he would've been a top draft choice. OK, so he wasn't going to bump Andrew Luck or RG3, but he wouldn't have been far behind. Now he is. Way behind.

5. Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib. Bad enough that his former head coach passed on him. But so did everyone else. The guy's still on the board.


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