The Alabama Crimson Tide have produced the top running back in each of the past two drafts, with Mark Ingram the No. 28 selection by the New Orleans Saints in 2011 and Trent Richardson picked No. 3 overall by the Cleveland Browns last year.
Eddie Lacy appears poised to continue this impressive string for Nick Saban's team, but his chances at doing may have decreased with the report that he won't be able to participate in Alabama's pro day scheduled for Wednesday.
Lacy, the top-rated back on NFLDraftScout.com's board, is still waiting for a slightly torn hamstring to heal. Lacy was unable to work out at the combine in late February due to the same issue. He has not announced when or if he'll be able to work out for scouts before the draft (April 25-27).
While anyone who watched Lacy beat up on Georgia in the SEC Championship game (181 yards, two touchdowns) or Notre Dame in the BCS title game (140 yards, one touchdown) knows he can play, speed is one of the few questions scouts have about Lacy, which makes his workout important.
The 5-foot-11, 231-pounder is a powerful runner with good lateral agility and a terrific spin move. He also possesses soft hands out of the backfield and is among the more reliable pass blockers from this year's running back class. He also offers two other qualities that will endear him to scouts -- he's played very well in big games and has received relatively little wear after serving as a backup behind Ingram and Richardson the first two years of his career with the Tide. He rushed for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns last season in his only year as Alabama's starter, earning all-conference honors.
Straight-line speed, however, is a question. Scouts have some reservations about the fact Lacy was running behind the best offensive line in college football. Some believe the five men blocking for him at Alabama are every bit as talented as the offensive line Lacy is likely to be running behind in the NFL. An impressive 40-yard dash or three-cone time won't guarantee Lacy will prove to be a quality starting running back in the NFL, of course, but it will go a long way toward reassuring decision makers about the caliber of athlete they'll be getting.
At least one running back was selected in the last 49 consecutive NFL drafts. Lacy is the most likely prospect to keep that streak alive in this year's draft. However, his chances of doing so decrease as he is unable to ease concerns about his speed. With Arian Foster and Alfred Morris among the running backs in recent years to prove that teams can find stars later than the first round, teams are hesitant to invest a high pick in a back with less than elite speed. Three running backs were drafted in the first round a year ago -- Richardson, Doug Martin and David Wilson. Richardson was the slowest, timing at 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That's faster than scouts expect Lacy to run.