College Coach on Packers RB MarShawn Lloyd: ‘He’s Got Great Feet’

Get to know running back MarShawn Lloyd, a third-round pick by the Packers, through the eyes of USC assistant head coach Dennis Simmons.
Marshawn Lloyd
Marshawn Lloyd / Tork Mason / USA TODAY NETWORK
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Running back MarShawn Lloyd made a quick and lasting impression during his one season at USC. Trojans assistant head coach Dennis Simmons expects Lloyd will do the same with the Green Bay Packers.

“He was very explosive when he came in,” Simmons told Packer Central this week. “A strong, compact-built kid. Once he got there, the mesh and the bond with the guys that were on the staff was very easy just because he’s an easy-going, kind of quiet-personality-type guy.

“I think the guys in the locker room, he will mesh very well with them. He’s not one of those dudes that’s going to be really on the roam, out all over the town. He’s a typical today’s-age kid. He’s going to lift, he’s going to run, he’s going to do his deal, and then go home and get on the game. Wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.”

Including the 2020 season, which he missed due to a torn ACL, Lloyd spent his first three collegiate seasons at South Carolina. For his final season, he transferred to USC. In 11 games, Lloyd ran for 820 yards. His 7.1-yard average ranked third in the nation among FBS-level running backs with at least 115 carries.

“One of his high qualities is that he’s got good feet, he’s got power, he’s got strength. He definitely can run through tackles and/or make guys miss in the hole,” Simmons said.

Lloyd might be short (5-foot-8 3/4) but he’s not small (220 pounds). With 4.46 speed in the 40, he’s a threat to go the distance. With that impressive skill-set, Lloyd ranked No. 1 in the draft class in broken tackles per 100 touches as well as missed tackles per 100 touches, according to Sports Info Solutions.

“He’s got great feet,” Simmons said. “I think their staff got a chance to observe it during the Senior Bowl, during those practices, as well as during the (Scouting) Combine with how he tested.”

Lloyd caught only 34 passes in 32 career games, including just 13 receptions during his lone season with the Trojans. However, the numbers don’t really tell the story, just like they didn’t for AJ Dillon, who caught only 21 passes in 36 career games at Boston College.

“He’s got good hands coming out of the back. He’s one that can catch the football,” Simmons said.

How about pass protection?

“He’s compact enough, so he’s going to be stout enough and strong enough to hold up and help your line in the protection,” Simmons said.

If there’s one nagging thing on his resume, it’s ball security. Lloyd fumbled three times out of a combined 128 rushes and receptions last season, or once for every 42.7 touches. That’s the second-worst mark in the draft class. (San Jose State’s Kairee Robinson, who went undrafted and unsigned, fumbled once every 42.0 touches).

“Ball security is something that he definitely still needs to grow in his game,” Simmons said. “So, that would be one of the areas that I can say he can definitely improve on.”

At least publicly, the Packers aren’t concerned. Afte drafting Lloyd, general manager Brian Gutekunst called it “very correctable.” On Thursday, running backs coach Ben Sirmans used the words “being conscious of the ball.” That’s where Simmons leaned.

“When you’re carrying the ball that much, at times when you’re trying to see the hole, sometimes you just don’t remember to keep that form and the elbow high and keep it tight,” he said.

How do you work past that? Lloyd fumbled eight times in three seasons. His coach at South Carolina was former NFL running back Mario Hardesty. His coach at USC was Kiel McDonald, who joined Jim Harbaugh’s staff with the Chargers. So, it’s not as if he hasn’t been coached.

“It’s just drills and muscle memory,” Simmons said.

When Lloyd was drafted, NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah called Lloyd the best back in the draft.

During his Zoom call with reporters upon being drafted, Lloyd agreed that he was the best back in the draft.

After the draft, Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy told Packer Central that Lloyd was the best back in the draft.

Whether Lloyd will indeed be the best back in the draft remains to be seen, but what will it take for him to maximize his potential?

“They’re getting an A-plus person, to sum it up in a nutshell. He’s going to show up, be there when he’s supposed to be there, take care of his business, do his work,” Simmons said.

“I think he gives you value both on the offensive side of the ball and he’ll give you value in your special teams game. Especially with the new rules with the kickoff return and things of that nature, I think he’s more than a one-dimensional back for you. You can use him on all three downs because you can use him in the pass game to help you get out of stuff, both protection and being an outlet to dump the ball off. And like I said, in the special teams game, he’s a guy that can play on your big four units.” 

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Bill Huber


Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.