Brian Gutekunst and the Packers shocked fans on Friday night when the selected A.J. Dillon out of Boston College with their second-round pick.
A lot of mock drafts went up in smoke on Friday night (mine included). After studying prospects for months, breaking down their film, and writing up scouting reports; I never saw this coming. Running back was a position that I hardly watched on tape, mostly because in my mind it wasn’t a dire team need.
Aaron Jones is coming off one of his best seasons in Green Bay. Jamaal Williams has shown that he is a reliable third-down back and even starter when need be. Both are approaching the end of their contracts soon but I never really saw them going anywhere else.
What I wanted to do after Friday night was make sense of the pick. A.J. Dillon is a great back, without a doubt. However, I’m trying to get a feel of how he will fit in with the Packers offense. Matt LaFleur could possibly be trying to morph his offense into a more run-oriented offense; much like Kyle Shanahan at San Fransisco.
If that is the case, Dillon would be a good fit. He was a workhorse during his time at Boston College. He comes from a downhill running attack, as opposed to the current running backs on the roster who all played in a zone run-oriented offense. If you go back and watch tape over the Eagles offense, you’ll find that they like to run with multiple tight ends and play a decent amount of snaps under center. That will play to Dillon’s advantage with the Packers.
Dillon could be the perfect combination with Aaron Jones as thunder and lighting. While Jones is the more agile, elusive back who flourishes in the zone running attack; Dillion is the hard-nosed runner who compliments Jones’ game. On tape, I noted how good of vison that Dillon had, as he was able to see the cutback several times, plant a foot and get downhill. He could do well in both the big-on-big and zone scheme. He did a fantastic job of being patient with his blockers and reading the play. With downhill runners, too often they want to bulldoze through blockers and not wait for the gap to open up. I think his vision is one of the key elements of his game.
With every positive, though, comes a negative. My biggest concern with Dillon is that he’ll have a lot of wear and tear on him coming into the league. While being the go-to player on your offense has its advantages, it also has its disadvantages. Will he be a player for the long haul? Dillon reminds me a lot of Eddie Lacy. Strong, powerful back who took a bulk of the hits in Alabama’s downhill rushing attack. As we all know, Lacy lasted only 4 seasons with the Packers.
The other big concern of mine is how Dillon will hold up in the passing game. He struggles at times when blocking in a 6 man protection scheme, which is something that is going to be asked of him in the LaFleur system. Along with blocking, catching seems to be another negative trait for him. Boston College didn’t involve their running backs a tremendous amount in the passing game. Dillon could do well with simple swing routes, but I certainly don’t see the Packers motioning him out to the flanker like they do with Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.
The addition of Dillon gives the Packers offense more opportunities to evolve and be what Matt LaFleur has envisioned when he came to Green Bay. We already saw glimpses of it in 2019 when he began using multiple tight ends and committing to the run. The organization seems to be getting away from McCarthy’s gun/west coast style.
The draft concludes Saturday, April 25th. With the final rounds on the horizon, it will be interesting to see what needs Brian Gutekunst and his staff address.
Follow me on Twitter: @PTTF_Ben