Aaron Rodgers doesn't need a consistent running game behind him for the Green Bay Packers to be successful.
Rodgers, however, should want that running game behind him as he enters his 10th season as the starting quarterback.
That's the path back to a Super Bowl for the first time since 2010. Green Bay GM Ted Thompson obliged with a shrewd fourth-round pick of BYU running back Jamaal Williams on Saturday. He's the power back this offense needs, wants and can use heading into the next run in 2017.
MORE: 2017 NFL Draft results
Green Bay will be in that Super Bowl contender conversation as long as Rodgers is quarterback. He proved that last year by leading Green Bay to an eight-game win streak between the regular-season and playoffs that pushed the Packers to the NFC championship game against Atlanta.
A consistent running game, however, is a difference maker. Ty Montgomery, who was drafted as a receiver, led Green Bay with 457 yards and three rushing TDs in 2016. Williams, a 6-foot, 212-pound running back who rushed for 1,375 yards and 12 TDs for the Cougars last season, offers a second option. He fits that mold of a between-the-tackles back that the Packers lacked when Eddie Lacy, who signed with Seattle in the offseason, saw a drop in production the last two seasons.
Thompson was able to land Williams at a bargain price. Green Bay addressed their defensive need with their first four draft picks, which landed Kevin King, Josh Jones, Montravius Adams and Vince Biegel. The Packers' defense took the priority in this draft, and with good reason. The Falcons beat the Packers 44-21 in that NFC championship game.
Green Bay let Dalvin Cook slide to the Vikings in the second round before making Williams the 13th running back drafted in 2017. Williams isn't a home-run threat, and it's a concern that he sat out the entire 2015 season for personal reasons before returning in 2016. The upside has limitations, but consider that the Packers' second option in the running game during the NFC playoffs last season was fullback Aaron Ripkowski. Williams should at least be in the rotation for carries right away. Green Bay also added UTEP's Aaron Jones in the fifth round and Utah State's Devante Mays in the seventh round. The competition will be there.
Does Rodgers really need that running game behind him? He had the highest QB rating of his career in 2011 during a MVP season in which James Starks led the team with 578 yards and one rushing TD. Rodgers won his second MVP in 2014, when Lacy rushed for 1,139 yards and nine TDs. Rodgers probably would prefer the latter line behind him moving into his 10th season as the Packers' starter.
Over those previous nine seasons, the Packers' lead rusher has averaged 205.1 carries, 859.2 rushing yards and five rushing TDs per season. Ryan Grant (2008-09) and Lacy (2013-14) had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, but Green Bay didn't reach the Super Bowl. The tag-team of Montgomery and Williams needs to exceed that target line to give the Packers that consistent running game to compliment Rodgers' all-around excellence at quarterback. Chance are they can do that.
Rodgers' arm will take the Packers far as always, but as he heads into the back half of his career that running game will be more valuable with each season.
That's what he's getting with Williams on board.