Though they were players to some degree in the courtship of veteran RB Steven Jackson, the Green Bay Packers remain on the hunt for a lead back following Jackson's decision to sign with the Atlanta Falcons. Though there have been some signings in the RB market already, a number of viable candidates remain unsigned, so the Packers could find a lower-cost option out of the group. Alternatively, they could turn to the draft.
It's unlikely that the Packers use their first-round pick on an RB, though not an impossibility. Both the Giants and the Buccaneers got great results out of a first-round investment at RB in 2012 -- David Wilson and Doug Martin, respectively -- and there are some interesting prospects available in this year's class. Mel Kiper, Jr. lists Eddie Lacy, Montee Ball, Johnathan Franklin, Giovani Bernard and Mike Gillislee as the Top 5 at the position, and breaks the group down as such (see below). Meanwhile, ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert notes that despite the fact that the Packers seemingly never use high draft picks on RBs, this isn't too unique compared to other teams around the league:
"You could note that [Packers GM Ted] Thompson has never taken a running back in the first round, and in fact the Packers as an organization haven't done that since before the arrival of general manager Ron Wolf. (Darrell Thompson, 1990.) But there are 12 other teams that haven't taken a running back in the first round since 2005, and in fact, there are three teams -- the New York Jets, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons -- who haven't taken one in the first or second rounds over that period. The point isn't to defend Thompson. But facts are facts. The Packers haven't been the most aggressive NFL team at the running back position during Thompson's tenure, but their spot near the midpoint of the league composite makes it difficult to argue that they have a policy against it, either. I don't know if that makes the Packers any more or less likely to use their first-round pick on a running back, but I'm not ready to rule out a draft focus at that position, either."
Mel Kiper, Jr.
"Lacy's pro day matters because he sat out the combine. If he performs well, he'll be the first back taken. Ball profiles more as an every-down guy, to the extent that those even exist anymore, but his explosiveness is just OK. Gillislee is a favorite of some evaluators. I question the explosiveness."