Value was too great for Packers to pass on running backs

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The Green Bay Packers sank a $110 million investment in Aaron Rodgers on Friday, a deal that includes $62.5 million over the next three seasons, and then they went about adding some pieces around him in the rest of the draft.

Green Bay grabbed falling Alabama running back Eddie Lacy at the end of the second round Friday night and doubled back with UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin on Saturday in the fourth round to provide the offense with young options at a position that has been pieced together in recent seasons.

“The way we view our offense, with the two backs, top to bottom with DuJuan (Harris), Alex (Green), James (Starks) and these two guys, I have not had this diverse ability of so many different types of runners and athletic ability,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Eddie Lacy is a big, powerful runner. Like Johnathan Franklin a lot. Feel very, very good about the group. A competitive situation. There will be excellent opportunities. I'm looking forward to seeing who grabs the rope and runs with it.”

The reality is the Packers have too many running backs at this point and a pre-draft visit with veteran Cedric Benson on Wednesday is unlikely to amount to anything at this point. Lacy and Franklin can compete for carries and the Packers will likely have a few veterans in place. But the intriguing thing here is the upside of the talented rookies.

Some thought Lacy would be selected in the first round and Franklin could have gone as high as the second round. The value was too good to pass up. Franklin, a teammate with Packers’ first-round pick Datone Jones at UCLA, set the Bruins’ single-season rushing record with 1,700 yards last season and holds the career mark with 4,403. He is the first UCLA running back drafted since Maurice Jones-Drew.

“I think we can all agree you can never have enough running backs,” McCarthy said. “The demands of the position. The way we like to play. You can't have enough.

“I think they all need to play every down. It's something we say as a staff, with the players. It's important to have players who can play first, second and third down. We train all of our running backs to be first, second and third down players.”

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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