Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Second round (No. 61 overall)
Against the Rams, Lacy carried eight times for 40 yards, caught one pass for 11 yards, showed off his patented spin move twice and certainly looked like a difference-maker. He also was impressive on Family Night, parlaying a strong week of practice into a debut against live tackling that showed off what a 5-foot-11, 230-pound back can do with his combination of power and agility. Although he missed the game against the Cardinals with a hamstring issue, he has the look of a special player – arguably the most gifted back the Packers have had since franchise all-time leading rusher Ahman Green was in his prime. He and DuJuan Harris could form a phenomenal 1-2 punch and give quarterback Aaron Rodgers all kinds of help with a respectable running game and effective play-action fakes.
“I’m just excited about the production he put out there in his first game,” running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said. “It brought some life to the offense, I think – especially the offensive line. Guys that run that way and break tackles and do the things he did Saturday night brings something to the offensive side of the ball. As far as continuing success, we’re just working one day at a time right now, just getting ready to play the Seahawks this week and hopefully we can get the same production from him and the running game.”
David Bakhtiari, OT, Colorado
Fourth round (No. 109 overall)
The first thing that was obvious about Bakhtiari was that he was mature well beyond his 21 years of age. When the pads came on on July 28, he elevated his game. He has very good feet, has room to add bulk to his 300-pound frame and had one mental error during the eight installations of the offensive playbook. While he’ll undoubtedly have some growing pains playing left tackle as a rookie, the Packers’ goose could’ve been cooked when Bulaga went down, and as of now, it appears they will survive.
“The thing with him is he’s very similar mentality-wise as Bryan was when he was young,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “Very studious with the game, willing to try things, very good at implementing something in an individual period and then doing it in a team period and then learning from it and correcting it going forward. They’re very similar from that standpoint. As far as his expectations and what we had for him from the beginning to now, they haven’t changed. He’s a hard worker and keeps getting better and better every day.”
J.C. Tretter, OT, Cornell
Fourth round (No. 122 overall)
The Packers had big plans for Tretter, who projected as a possible center before suffering a broken ankle on the first day of organized team activity practices May 20 while participating in a fumble recovery drill. Smart and athletic, he might’ve made things interesting as an inside option behind guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang and center Evan Dietrich-Smith. He’s still moving around on crutches and is likely headed for injured reserve, although he would be eligible for the physically unable to perform list if the Packers think there’s a chance he could help them late in the year.
“He’s in all the meetings, of course, and continues to get the mental reps. He’s part of the group, and he answers questions just like everyone else in the room, takes the test and does all that stuff. For him, right now it’s get well and get back on the field,” Campen said. “J.C.’s a very studious kid, very smart, so he’s taking the mental reps every day watching the tape – the practice tape, the games. We prepare him just as if he’s playing. … He’s a very headstrong kid. He’s going to be a good football player.”
Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Fourth round (No. 159 overall)
With nine carries for 23 yards (2.6-yard average) and a long run of 4 yards, Franklin has not impressed through two games. He’s also shaky catching punts, which he’d never done before, and botched a punt return against the Rams when he failed to field a kick and then didn’t make the “Peter” call to notify jammer Brandon Smith to get out of the way, leading to a turnover. That said, the Packers love the idea of Franklin earning the third-down back job, currently held by fullback John Kuhn. While Kuhn knows the offense as well as Rodgers and is the best at picking up blitzes, he offers little as a receiver or ballcarrier. Franklin would change that.
“I think (with) Johnathan, the first part of Family Night and the first game, he was trying to feel his way into the system,” Van Pelt said. “He’s still very talented. He hasn’t had a lot of clean looks to run through. Eddie had some really nice looks where somebody’s going to get through that hole regardless of who the back is. Johnathan just hasn’t been fortunate enough to get any of those good, clean looks yet. When they come, you’ll see his explosiveness, his ability to make guys miss.”
Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa
Fifth round (No. 159 overall)
Hyde has been so good that second-year cornerback Casey Hayward, who was activated from the training-camp PUP list this week, has to earn his spot back from the rookie. With veteran Tramon Williams sidelined with a bone bruise in his knee, Hyde leapfrogged Davon House after the Arizona game and is at No. 2 on the depth chart at corner alongside Sam Shields. He’s also injected himself into the punt return conversation after a 13-yarder against the Rams. Having done the job as a junior and senior at Iowa, he’s much more natural than Franklin and could be the alternative the Packers seek to get Randall Cobb off returns.
“Micah has shown the ability to come in and play with the play speed that we’ve been looking for, the toughness. He’s done a lot of things correct,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “Like I told the room, he’s deserving of where he is right now. He wasn’t there at the beginning of camp. He was probably the seventh guy in the room coming into camp. He has been deserving of his opportunities because of the way he has practiced, the way that he’s played when it mattered. The other guys are going to have to do what they have to do to be deserving.”