Size: Lacy has fantastic size for a running back and he combines that with very impressive athleticism. He is listed at 5’11”, 231 pounds and he is an absolute chore to get to the ground. Thanks to his size and speed he is very hard to bring down, particularly if he has you one on one in the open field. His sheer size and strength alone is evident the second you start watching him as he is almost impossible to arm tackle, he displays extremely impressive leg drive and gains a lot of yardage after contact.
Speed: Lacy hasn’t been officially timed in the 40 yard dash at this point but it is evident when you watch him that he has impressive straight line speed for his size. I think he is in the 4.48-4.52 range in the 40, so I am interested to see what he is timed at when he works out later this month. He isn’t going to get the corner whenever he wants at the next level, but he definitely has the speed to break off chunks of yardage and he is extremely tough to bring down once he gets up to top speed. I personally think he is one of the best height/weight/speed backs in the draft and that isn’t often said about power backs as big as Lacy.
Quickness: Lacy’s quickness and agility jumps out at you almost instantly when you watch him. He is shockingly quick and agile for his size and it helps him hit holes quickly and with impressive force. His acceleration is impressive as is his ability to make defenders miss in the open field. Had I not already seen him play live I would have been shocked by his ability to get defenders off balance with his shiftiness. Combining that with his size and strength is a very potent product.
Running Inside: Lacy is fantastic at running between the tackles. This certainly had something to do with him running through some truly massive lanes thanks to his offensive line, but his quickness, ability to run through arm tackles like they are ribbons at the end of a marathon, and leg drive make him a very effective inside runner. He runs with good pad level and packs a punch if he is met in the hole after which he will either drive his legs for tough yards or occasionally spin off the initial hit for more yardage. He can absolutely wear you down by gaining tough yards after contact, then he can get you in the open field and make you miss on the way to a big run up the middle. He’s the complete package as far as running between the tackles.
Running Outside: I didn’t expect Lacy to be as good at running outside as he was, but obviously that’s not going to be his strong suit at the next level. Part of his effectiveness was undeniably the brilliant blocking by his tackles and tight ends on the edges, but his surprising ability to make defenders miss, plant his foot and burst upfield and his obvious strength and power make him a handful out on the edge. It’s possible to string him out and I think that will happen to him more at the next level than it did at Alabama but he has the vision and athleticism to at least get some carries outside at the next level in my opinion. He won’t be as effective as he is between the tackles, but I think he can do it because of how well he uses his blockers when he is in space.
Receiving: Lacy is a reliable receiver but I don’t think he will be anything more than an above-average to good receiver out of the backfield at the next level. He seems to have pretty soft hands, but he has dropped some passes that had a little heat on them (particularly outside of his frame or above his head). He hasn’t caught a lot of passes at Alabama, but he is more than reliable in the flats or in the screen game. Beyond that he won’t have a huge impact, but he likely won’t be asked to do much more anyway.
Blocking: This was one part of Lacy’s game that really disappointed me. He has all the size, strength and athleticism to be a potentially great pass protector but he leaves a lot to be desired in this area of his game. In all of the games I watched of him I only noted two “good” blocks in pass protection and those were both against smaller players. He will occasionally cut block effectively, but the vast majority of the time he shoulder stings the defender he is blocking or helping with and floats out into the flat. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch because he could potentially take the defender he is blocking out of the play completely, but instead he elects to essentially bump into them and that’s it. He needs a running backs coach that will light a fire under him and motivate him to play with better effort while also working on his technique in pass protection. He has all the upside to be a great pass blocker, but at this point virtually none of it has been realized.
Vision: I think Lacy has good but not great vision as a runner. At times he will be almost too patient when he’s running, but I would prefer a runner to err on the side of being patient and letting his blocks set up rather than forcing the issue too early. He does a good job finding the initial hole when running inside, and he finds cut-back lanes effectively in addition to using his blocks well when he runs outside or in the open field. His offensive line was so good that there are times when he attempted to be looking for a big lane to run through or he would try to bounce it outside instead of just taking what was there and moving on to the next down. I think that this will be coachable because he doesn’t try to hit the home run every carry, but it was a tendency I noticed when I was watching him.
Ball Security: This was another part of Lacy’s game that concerned me. He doesn’t have a lot of issues fumbling the ball, but he does carry the ball too low at times (only two points of pressure versus the three you are supposed to have). Additionally, when he spins or fights for extra yardage there are times he lets the ball get too far away from his body which makes him susceptible to getting stripped. Once again, this can be coached up a bit, but it’s still a red flag for me.
Overall: There’s no doubt that Lacy is an intriguing talent. He has all the size, strength, speed, quickness and power that you could want in a running back in my opinion. Combine that with pretty good vision, reliable hands and the potential to be a good pass blocker and it’s no surprise that he is at the top of most running back rankings. Personally I think he is a virtual lock to go in the top 50 picks depending on how his workout goes and if he interviews well. He would be a great fit for a team that likes to pound the ball such as the Steelers or the Falcons, but I don’t think he’s going to be an elite back at the next level. I think he could have a couple very good or even great seasons, but I don’t think he’s going to be “special.” There’s no reason he couldn’t be a very good back though, particularly if he lands on a team with a good offensive line and other weapons around him that will keep teams from stacking the box against him. Backs with his combination of size, 4.5 speed, leg drive, quickness, elusiveness and balance don’t exactly grow on trees.
Projection: Top 50. He gets a top 40 grade from me, and while I’m not sure he ends up in round 1 once in for all I would be shocked if he made it until the end of round 2, much less into round 3.