Searching for an Aaron Jones-type RB

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By KenLass

Searching for an Aaron Jones-type RB – Draft has some possibilities.

As the Green Bay Packers roster currently stands, the top two running backs on the team are Josh Jacobs and AJ Dillon.  Both are of the same basic style, power runners who pass block well and have the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.  Neither, however, is what you would call a home run threat, a slashing, speed type ball carrier who can outrun a secondary to the end zone.  In other words, an Aaron Jones type. 

Both general manager Brian Gutekunst and head coach Matt LaFleur say they will continue to use a multi-running back philosophy this coming season.  Jacobs will be the starter and main weapon.  Dillon can give him a rest now and then.  But if the committee approach is truly going to be successful, the Packers need to add an Aaron Jones-type talent.  And that player is likely going to have to come from the draft.   

With five picks in the first three rounds, Green Bay has enough draft capital to address this need on the first two days of the draft.  This is especially true considering most mock drafts have no RBs being picked in the first round.  If that plays out, it means the highest rated RB prospects may still be on the board when Green Bay selects in the second round at picks 41 and 58. 

Aaron Jones, picked in the fifth round, turned out to be one of best ball carriers in franchise history.  After watching many highlight clips and poring through personal stats, here are the RBs at the top of this draft class that remind me most of Jones.  I’m not saying any of them will be as good as Jones.  I’m just pointing out their styles, and the skills they bring to the table, are similar. 

Trey Benson 

This would be the knock it out of the park selection.  The Florida State star is a bigger, more powerful version of Jones, but with the same wiggle and explosion.  At six feet tall and 216 pounds, Benson flashed a 4.39 in the forty at the Combine.  He also caught the ball well and was a terror on screen passes for the Seminoles.  Benson is at, or near, the top of all RB rankings in this draft, so if the Packers like him, they would likely have to take him at pick 41.  He won’t be there at pick 58. 

Blake Corum 

Yes, he is very small at five foot eight, but he still packs 213 pounds on his frame and seems to be able to take a beating and keep on rolling.  You wouldn’t want him to be your workhorse, but in Green Bay he might be the perfect change of pace slasher the team needs.  Terrific shake and direction reversal in the open field.  His style is the definition of explosive.  Can catch the ball.  His size may put him at a disadvantage when it comes to pass protection, but he was born to catch screens and turn them into big plays.  Was the lead back for national champion Michigan and made several clutch runs for them. 

Bucky Irving 

Number one back in that explosive Oregon offense.  Not as big a frame as Corum, weighing in at just 192 pounds at five foot nine.  Also not quite as fast, turning in a forty time of 4.55.  But he can get to that top speed the instant he touches the ball.  Exceptional vision to the hole, and the cutback skill to get through it.  Breaks a surprising amount of tackles considering his thin body.  Can be a high volume pass catcher.  Looks designed to be a third down back in the NFL.  He’s also more likely to still be there in round three.  Here again, would he be able to pass protect?  Would he even be called upon to do so? 

With other needs to fill, Gutekunst may well choose to address the running back position on day three.  He might try to repeat the strategy of his predecessor, Ted Thompson, whom he admires, and draft multiple ball carriers in the late rounds.  In 2017 Thompson took Jamal Williams in round four, Jones in round five, and Devante Mays in round seven.  Williams and Jones were both hits and served as an effective thunder and lightning combination for four years.   

Gutey told beat writers at the owners’ meetings this week that the 2024 draft class is deep in running backs and the team will be looking to add to that unit.  He may not unearth another Aaron Jones, but it’s a pretty good bet that is the type of back he will be searching for. 

Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.