With just Eddie Lacy and James Starks returning at running back from a season ago, it would not have been a surprise to see the Green Bay Packers draft a running back in the 2015 NFL draft.
Yet eight picks passed and no running back was selected by general manager Ted Thompson. But as any Packer fan should know, Green Bay does as good a job in undrafted free agency as any team in the NFL and with the signing of former North Dakota State running back John Crockett–it appears Thompson and his scouting staff have found another gem.
Crockett, who stands at 6-1 and weights in at 219 pounds, is a beast–and he helped NDSU win four consecutive FCS national championships. He was projected to go in the sixth or seventh round and it was a mild surprise when he wasn’t picked and with the uncertainty surrounding the Packers depth chart behind Lacy and Starks–Green Bay was the perfect place for him as an UDFA.
Crockett is a talented runner. And he is more than talented enough to challenge Rajion Neal, who was projected to go late in the draft last year but went undrafted before ending up in Green Bay.
Crockett and Neal are both strong, decisive runners that fit well in Green Bay’s power-zone running scheme. Crockett was highly productive at the FCS level rushing for 1,994 yards this past season to go along with 21 touchdowns. It was his third straight season with over a thousand yards rushing and he scored a total of 42 career touchdowns.
Crockett is not an explosive runner by any means but he gets what is blocked for him and can make people miss. He won’t run over people but he does catch the ball well out the backfield and should be up to the job in pass protection with a little training. If he can master those things and contribute on special teams there is no reason why Crockett can’t earn his way onto the final roster.
The Packers will likely keep three backs this season and Lacy and Starks are both locks. Neal progressed at the end of last season and might have a slight leg up on Crockett with a year of practice-squad experience under his belt. But there is no doubt Crockett is an intriguing prospect and all that matters is how each player performs in camp.
One thing we can be sure of is that the Packers have found another solid prospect to add to their 90-man roster that will bring competition to
camp at the running back position, while at the same time having a very real chance to earning his way onto the final 53-man roster at the end of August.
Here is a highlight video of Crockett from this past season: