So, you want an every down running back? You want a guy that can shoulder the load every Sunday against the best players in professional football? Here’s a suggestion on where you might find him: playing against the best players in college football.
In 2013 there are 10 SEC running backs that could be drafted. These guys have spent the last several years playing with and against future NFL talent and seem likely candidates to make the transition . But there’s one name who often goes unnoticed: Zac Stacy.
When we use the term “workhorse,” we should be looking at weekly consistency. Full year numbers can mask the nuances of a player’s performance and be skewed with a few high carry games. For this exercise, we will drill down to the box score level and look at running back performances when they were given 10+ carries in conference games, which approximates the workload of a lead back.
*2010 season was used in place of injury-lost 2011
^Big 12 opponents with top 50 rush defense were included
Here’s your first clue that Zac Stacy is a workhorse: in his last 16 conference games, Stacy posted double digit carries on 13 occasions. For a Vanderbilt team that ranked 10th in the league in scoring in 2012, it was critical that they possess the ball and grind out close games. Behind Stacy’s running, the ‘Dores played in back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. More than just a numbers-by-volume guy, Stacy made an impact in the “W” column by putting points on the board:
OK, so Marcus Lattimore is really good (when healthy), but it’s impressive to see Stacy in 2nd. You would think that Eddie Lacy, on that loaded Alabama team, would routinely find paydirt when given lead-back touches, but Stacy did it better. Zac answered the call week-in and week-out despite playing behind a Vandy line that lacks elite talent.
More than just a nose for the end zone, which players did the most to help their team move the ball when getting lead-back touches?
Knile Davis leads the way on the success of his dominant 2010 season, but he has hardly been the same runner since. Meanwhile, Stacy continues to hold his own against the former Crimson Tide back. It’s interesting that the two names above and two names below Stacy are the ones getting all the credit. Meanwhile, there is Zac Stacy with no character concerns or major injuries to his name. He’s a proven producer and a fantastic athlete that has drawn comparisons to Ray Rice here at RotoViz. Where will he get drafted? Who knows. What I do know is that this skill set will make some NFL franchise very happy.