The Green Bay Packers have arranged to meet with their first running back prospect of the 2020 NFL draft class with one week to go until draft day.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the Packers are among the teams that have held or plan to hold a video conference with Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, adding the star rusher to a growing list of prospects to have virtually met with the Packers this offseason.
Dobbins is considered one of the top running back prospects in the upcoming draft class after a prolific career for the Buckeyes, rushing for more than 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns in his final year in Columbus. He finished his three-year career with 4,459 rushing yards, 645 receiving yards and 43 total touchdowns — five of which were receptions.
The versatility of Dobbins’ game is one of the things that makes him such an appealing draft prospect with advanced vision as a rusher and reliable hands as a pass-catcher, according to a draft analysis from The Draft Network’s Joe Marino. He also compared Dobbins with Josh Jacobs, who became a breakout star for the Las Vegas Raiders during his rookie season in 2019.
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Packers’ Rushing Situation Secure (for Now)
The Packers have more immediate needs to address before trying to sort out their future at running back, but they are less than a year away from having to make some serious decisions about who will occupy their backfield beyond the 2020 season.
Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are both set to become unrestricted free agents next offseason and will each have to contend for new contracts with a number of other high-profile free agents, including Packers starters David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Kenny Clark and Kevin King.
While Jones’ people have reached out to the Packers to begin discussing a possible contract interest, there is no telling yet whether they are committed to bringing him back beyond 2020. He broke out as a dynamic offensive threat during his third NFL season last year and could help make his case with another strong follow up next year; though, the money could prove challenging.
Christian McCaffrey reset the running back market when he signed a four-year, $64 million contract extension with the Carolina Panthers earlier this week. Jones would likely not command quite as much money, but he did match McCaffrey with an NFL-most 19 touchdowns in 2019. Maybe his desire to stay in Green Bay could see him agree to a team-friendly deal much like the one Austin Ekeler signed with the Los Angeles Chargers; though how he performs in 2020 precedes all of that.
Without either Jones or Williams, the Packers don’t have any viable options moving forward into 2021. They drafted Dexter Williams in last year’s sixth round, but he never got meaningful usage during the 2019 season as the other two took the reins. Packers coach Matt LaFleur has said he wants to find a third running back for the rotation next season, which could mean more playing time for either Williams or return specialist Tyler Ervin.
The Packers’ plan for the future will start to become clearer next week with 10 picks in the 2020 draft, but don’t be surprised if a running back enters the fold.