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Battering Ram A.J. Dillon Is Ready to Go Now

Post-Draft, Looking on the Bright Side Series – Part 1

By acquiring A.J. Dillon, the Packers just got tougher. The 6-foot 247-pound bruiser told the press he’s “good to go,” and I don’t doubt it in the least.

The big three touted rushers in this draft, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, and Jonathan Taylor were all taken by overall pick 41. Cam Akers went in the middle of Round 2, and Dillon became the fifth RB chosen, at #62.

Say what you will, but for a four-year stretch, from 2013 through 2016, the Packers possessed one of the league’s most fearsome offensive players, Eddie Lacy. It was pure delight to watch would-be tacklers bounce off Eddie’s huge thighs as he left defenders in his wake. Eddie brought about a new respect for a team that had long been viewed as non-physical and easily intimidated. Lacy is also a nice guy – it’s a shame he proved to have gimpy ankles and an eating disorder.

TP’s Ed Rooney has previously profiled the 247-pound workhorse (here). All three of his seasons at Boston College were fine ones, and he saved the best for his final year: 1,685 rushing yards, a 5.3 average, and 14 TDs.

Dillon was honored as ACC Rookie of the year as a 19-year old freshman, then won All-ACC honors as a sophomore despite playing in only 10 games, and then gained all-conference honors and was named third-team AP All-American in his final year. Though he won’t turn 22 until May, I feel he’s ready to make an immediate impact in the pros.

How does a heavyweight like this manage a 4.53 dash time (Lacy’s was 4.58) and a 41-inch vertical leap? Suffice it to say he’s got a rare physique, and it’s all muscle – he was recently measured as having only 5 percent body fat.

How big is Dillon? His Combine weight was 16 pounds more than Lacy’s! How tough is Dillon? Sports Info Solutions ranked him fourth in the nation in causing 43 missed tackles and seventh with 943 rushing yards after contact.

I agree with Ed Rooney that Dillon has starting running back potential. I’d even take it a step further. I’ve often fantasized over the Packers having a “Thunder and Lightning” run attack. With Aaron Jones providing the lightning, and Dillon the thunder, I wouldn’t mind this duo being sent onto the field together from the outset of this season.

While the Packers did not have a pressing need for a running back, I’m confident that Dillon is a significant upgrade over Jaamal Williams. The popular Williams has been a welcome surprise as a fourth-round pick in 2017, but he’s never been more than a mid-talent role player.

I can envision a couple or reasons the Packers expended a high draft choice on a running back. The Packers remain in a tough salary cap situation. If they can’t find the money to pay Aaron Jones $10 million or so per year beginning in 2021, they’ll still have a talented runner on the roster at a fraction of what it would cost to retain Jones.

Derrick Henry Comparison

The other reason relates to where coach Matt LaFleur was in 2018 – he was in Tennessee, calling plays for the Titans’ offense. LaFleur had a ball carrier, Derrick Henry, who Dillon might soon be drawing comparisons to. Though three inches shorter than Henry, Dillon weighs the same.

Henry rushed for 1,540 yards last season, seemingly coming out of nowhere to be the top ground gainer in the league. However, Henry actually began his breakout play under LaFleur in late 2018. In Tennessee’s final four games, La Fleur called his number 87 times, and Henry responded by gaining 585 rushing yards. Henry averaged 146 yards in these final four games, three of which were Tennessee wins. He also scored seven touchdowns. LaFleur got a close-up view of how a bruising running back can dominate a defense.

 

RB AJ Dillon

Nov 30, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Boston College Eagles running back AJ Dillon (2) rushes the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Start Him Now!

Guetekunst invested heavily in picking Dillon so early in the draft. By all Indications, Dillon is ready to contribute immediately. Here’s a guy fresh off of a very busy and outstanding college career.

You might recall that Eddie Lacy wasted no time establishing himself when he arrived in Green Bay. He churned out over 1,100 yards on the ground in each of his first two years, and he even hauled in 77 passes for almost 400 more yards. He was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Like Lacy, Dillon enters the NFL as a fully developed workhorse – these are the kind of runners who don’t depend a lot on nuances or sophistication.

Matt LaFleur has repeatedly indicated that he wants a strong run game to be the foundation of his offense. The selection of A.J. Dillon is strong evidence that the Packers’ offense is transitioning from a pass-heavy to a run-oriented attack.

Just think of the play-action possibilities: is it a handoff to Dillon going up the middle, a lateral to Jones on the sweep, or has Rodgers kept the ball and is drifting back to pass?

We got him, so let’s use him. I say start him, right away, alongside Aaron Jones in a two-back set, and let thunder and lightning rain down on the opposition.

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Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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21 Comments

  1. stiggy May 2, 2020

    I agree rob…while my heart was set on jk Dobbins or j Taylor this is the only pick of the first 3 I was satisfied with.

    Short yardage was a joke last year..although my suspicion is having Billy turner on the line may have been a contributing factor to our short yardage woes.

    Reply
    1. Savage57 May 3, 2020

      I liked the pick when it was announced, for all the reasons people have pointed to: Size, speed, jump out of the gym athleticism.

      What I wonder about is how he’ll fare against NFL talent? Looking at his college game logs, he didn’t fare too well against better competition such as Clemson and Notre Dame.

      Reply
  2. PF4L May 2, 2020

    Sam Moyer
    2 days ago
    Drafting Rodgers was the best move this organization has made, and drafting to get rid of him will be it’s worst.

    Reply
    1. Kato May 2, 2020

      We get it. Get over it.

      Reply
      1. PF4L May 2, 2020

        Listen up child….if your so sick of me, sick of this, sick of that……
        .
        Why do you write comments trying to illicit response and confrontation?

        Reply
  3. MJ May 2, 2020

    Good one, Rob!
    Indeed, he is the most likely to start right away.
    Without having any more details, the fact that he is three inches shorter than Derrick Henry, and about the same weight suggests Dillon has a higher bone cross section and bigger joints. This, is good if your job description implies getting hit every time you touch the ball, whether it is by a speeding safety or being bumped and wrapped by a DT. He is also likely more muscular, which again helps absorbing the punishment.

    =========

    Totally on board with the idea of seeing this lad pummeling defenses and collecting the big yards when they get worn out.

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    Lacy’s case was a complete pity. The guy had everything going for him. Strength, good top speed, was very shifty for someone his size. Heck, at some point he was even working on his receiving skills. For a sizeable chunk of 2013 he WAS our offense. In 2014 he was one of the reasons we had a strong playoff run. Then he ate his way out of the league. You could even see it in his cheeks. Most of us, who are far from being pro sportsmen, have to figure out a diet that works for our specifics (age, build, metabolism, job, etc). You can clearly tell whether you are gaining weight or losing it. Your clothes become tighter/looser according to that. No way to not notice it, and having acknowledged the fact, change your habits. Especially, with the bevy of trainers/coaches/nutritionists has to have at their disposal. At least he got 5M from SEA on his way out of the league, so there’s that.

    =======

    I’m curious whether Dillon has the same lateral quickness Lacy had. A guy like Dillon has to be stopped before he becomes a speeding train. I actually see that happening with this OL. Too many runs were stopped at or behind the LOS. A guy like Jones can avoid a tackler and still make something out of a would-be broken play. If Dillon has not gotten up to speed, he can be bought down without dragging defenders for four yards. Power running has not been our strong suit at least from 2012 and on. Pushing guys at the point of attack has not been a meaningful part of our style, so I hope our OL do some catching up.

    Reply
    1. Kato May 2, 2020

      Man, in 2013 him and James Starks were such a good combo.

      Reply
    2. Skinny May 2, 2020

      Agree. Lacy should have had a hell of a career in Green Bay. Pretty much saved the 2013 season for us instead of it being a total shit show when Rodgers went down. Still dont know what happened? Heard him say once that he thought the NFL was easier then his time at Bama as far as practice schedule, weight training, etc.

      Reply
      1. PF4L May 2, 2020

        I vaguely remember reading some guy post years ago, saying that Lacy would eat himself out of the league. The scouting reports were mostly spot on.
        .
        Seattle gave him a 1 year deal, paid him 3.937 million. In exchange Lacy gave them….179 yards, with a 2.9 average, 0 TD’s.
        .
        Such is the pity…..this guy was talented, if he committed himself to his craft, he could have had a hell of a career in the NFL Maybe not a HOF’er but a very, very, good and lucrative career. Sad really.

        Reply
  4. Kato May 2, 2020

    Dillon can catch too. Don’t let his college stats fool you about his ability to be a receiving threat out of the backfield. BC doesn’t throw the ball all that much. Make no mistake, the Packers are building the offense to LaFleur’s vision. Simon Stepaniak and Jake Hanson are maulers on the line, the offensive identity is going to be running the ball down teams throats and controlling the clock

    Reply
  5. Kato May 2, 2020

    So for those of you that haven’t quit on the team, this is a great scouting video on Jordan Love, outlining his pros and cons with great video analysis for those of you that like watching a video over reading

    https://youtu.be/GOG1qvCbqsc

    Reply
  6. SCPKRBKR May 3, 2020

    I think LeFleur understands that AR needs to have a better blocking and running “back”. Hell if the guy can catch in a screen that is a plus. A stout blocking TE and RB will help out the pass rush. I agree with Rob, short yardage situations were pathetic at best. Hope everyone is doing well with this pandemic.

    Reply
    1. PF4L May 3, 2020

      Thanks SCPKBKR…
      .
      Hope you and your’s are well also. On one hand we are so tired of this, hunkering down in house is getting old really quick. I want to be a Rebel about it and defy. But i can’t because this Pandemic is real and too damn serious. When this Country has over 67.000 deaths, people’s health and lives are on the line, there is no gray area.
      .
      Godspeed

      Reply
  7. PF4L May 3, 2020

    I don’t know about anyone else, but i find it entertaining to go back doing a search, reading old articles, comments, about certain players, coaches. etc, and where they eventually ended up. Since i was recently reminded about my obsession with Mr. Jeff Janis. It’s all about him this morning.
    .
    Skinny April 1, 2018
    Don’t be surprised if he ends up driving to Pittsburgh first instead of Cleveland.
    .
    PF4L April 1, 2018
    He’d get lost on the route there.
    ………………………..
    Howard April 1, 2018
    I don’t want to be the materialistic weasel of the bunch, but do you think the Packers will get a compensation pick out of the deal? ;-)
    .
    PF4L April 1, 2018
    You don’t start reading the will at the funeral my friend. Can that wait until we’ve had the time to properly mourn?
    .
    Long live the People’s Champion.
    .
    Janis to Start?
    “Maybe I’m biased, but I think that Janis will be one of the two starting wideouts come opening day”. – Joseph “Henry” Bonham.
    .

    PF4L March 30, 2018
    Jeff JANIS!!
    1st stop…..Cleveland
    2nd stop…Pro Bowl
    3rd stop…ALL-PRO
    4th stop….Canton
    Reports out of Cleveland are that Janis was brought in to help Gordon with his route running.
    In turn…Gordon will take Janis under his wing and teach him the fine art of passing a piss test.
    Players helping players.
    The NFL needs more feel good story’s like this.
    .
    ay hombre February 13, 2018
    I look forward to Janis being a star somewhere else.
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    PF4L February 13, 2018
    I look forward to watching McCarthy be a success without Aaron Rodgers.
    .
    Looks like were both going to be disappointed.
    .

    Reply
    1. PF4L May 3, 2020

      WARNING; Some post contain extreme sarcasm.
      .
      PF4L February 12, 2018
      Yea, i’m not digging the hate that McCarthy has over some players. Rob thought this one out well, and i agree 100%. McCarthy has clearly spent the last 4 years obsessed with derailing Janis’s career. Nothing has ever been so clear to me.
      .
      McCarthy wouldn’t know great football players if they fell on his head. Guys like Janis and now Hundley. Yea, i said it….he ruined Hundleys career also. He wouldn’t open up the offense for Hundley to soar. It wasn’t that he knew that Hundley can’t throw long, or that he’ll throw a lot of picks. He just hates Hundley, just like he hates Janis.
      .
      Hundley……have any of you seen this guy move? He has the feet of a dancer, an arm like a cannon, and the pinpoint accuracy of a sniper. But McCarthy wouldn’t let him show it, because he hates him. Then i watch his 2015 pre-season and all i can do is scream out…CAN’T MISS!!
      .
      PF4L February 12, 2017
      First of all, nobody hated Janis. I think everyone of us was hoping he could take the top off a defense. In reality, sometimes he had trouble catching the ball while running forward, among his other problems. Don’t let your “luv” and obsession for Janis cloud your judgement, he wasn’t Julio Jones, he wasn’t denied opportunity, he had 3 seasons. Opportunity’s are earned in the NFL. He was, what he was, a 7th round pick, a bad route runner and someone who just couldn’t understand the big picture. He was exactly what the scouting reports said of him.

      Reply
  8. Deepsky May 3, 2020

    The way to win a Super Bowl with an aging QB is with a strong running game. The Broncos beat the Packers in 1998 with the unstoppable Terrell Davis using this exact same offense, handed down from Mike Shanahan to Kyle Shanahan to Matt LaFluer..

    Reply
    1. Ferris May 3, 2020

      And so far Kyle Shanahan’s offense has blown 2 Super Bowls. Couldn’t execute when they HAD to. I know he wasn’t the coach in Atlanta but don’t call a pass and take a sack when you are in FG range late in the SB.
      Hey Matt and Gute, if you win a Super Bowl in the next 2 years all is forgiven.

      Reply
      1. PF4L May 5, 2020

        Well….Lets see if we can get past a NFCCG without getting embarrassed, before we start talking about winning Super Bowls.
        .
        Just sayin.

        Reply
  9. PF4L May 5, 2020

    Some people suggest that Gute’s draft was justified, believing that the team isn’t a player or two away from winning a Super Bowl anyway, So why try.
    .
    If were going to subscribe to that, why don’t we trade Aaron Jones? His value may never be higher. The consensus is the Packers won’t pay him. Which is probably why they drafted Dillon in the first place.
    .
    I mean….if the Packers aren’t trying to win the SB, what reason even exist for keeping him? The Packers surely aren’t going to pay him 12 million after this season, or even 8 million. Why not get a return on him?
    .
    Seattle anyone?

    Reply
    1. stiggy May 5, 2020

      gotta give the APPEARANCE of wantng to win . Even the Kaelins and redditors of this world will lose faith in the franchise if they trade jones.

      Reply
      1. PF4L May 7, 2020

        When (if) they start giving an appearance of wanting to win, that’s something we could then talk about.

        Reply

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