Coach Mike McCarthy made that declaration Saturday, even after the Packers drafted three running backs — something they haven’t done in 43 years.
“Absolutely, he’s our starting running back,” McCarthy said shortly after the draft ended. “I think it gives us excellent depth, and it will be nice to have a full room.”
The Packers didn’t have this kind of running back depth last season, which is what precipitated Montgomery’s midseason switch from receiver. After the season, in which Montgomery led the Packers in rushing with just 457 yards, McCarthy declared that the position switch would be permanent and said Montgomery planned to change from his No. 88 to a traditional running back number. However, earlier this offseason, Montgomery decided to keep his receiver number.
At one point this offseason, McCarthy expressed the desire to pair Montgomery with Eddie Lacy. It was Lacy’s season-ending ankle injury that triggered Montgomery’s position switch. When Lacy signed with the Seattle Seahawks in free agency, that left the Packers with a major hole.
Enter fourth-round pick Jamaal Williams of BYU, fifth-round pick Aaron Jones of UTEP and seventh-rounder Devante Mays of Utah State. The three Saturday draft picks combined for 9,240 yards in their college careers. Two of them, Murray and Jones, hold their respective school rushing records.
“We’ll acclimate them, teach them our system,” McCarthy said. “Ty Montgomery can do that, so he will be our starter, but it’s a competitive room.”
“The more the merrier,” Packers general manager Ted Thompson said. “This is a tough business, and that’s an awful tough position to play.”
Taking three running backs in the same draft is far from unprecedented; the Seattle Seahawks did so last year, but the Packers hadn’t done so since 1974.