GIANTS MAY LOOK TO ADDRESS RUNNING BACK SITUATION THROUGH NFL DRAFT
"The New York
Giants need to address the running game this offseason now that they have
Jacobs. Free agency is a place where New York may look to fill this void, while the NFL Draft is
another option for Big Blue, and the Giants could use one of their selections in
April to pick up another player to carry the ball.
New York Giants running back Brandon
Jacobs fends off Washington Redskins line backer Brian Orakpo to pick up get
back to the line of scrimmage in the first quarter at FedEx Field in Landover,
Maryland on January 2, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg
There are currently four running backs on the roster, with Ahmad
Bradshaw poised to reassume the starting role next year. But after Bradshaw,
there is not much else on the depth chart. The only one of the other three backs
that saw substantial playing time was D.J. Ware.
Ware saw action in all of the Giants' regular season and postseason games.
The fifth year back averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, and did not find the end
zone throughout the year. Many of the screens that were designed for Ware by
offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride did not work well for the Giants. Ware saw
a significant drop in his average receiving yards per catch, netting just 6.3
yards compared to 9.6 in 2010.
The only running back that Mel Kiper Jr. deems worthy of a first round pick
is Alabama’s Trent Richardson, who he has being drafted fifth overall. Lamar
Miller, Doug Martin, Lamichael James and David Wilson round out Kiper’s top-five
backs. If Richardson is the only back taken in the opening round, New York
should have a slew of running backs to choose from in the later rounds if they
want to pick up a back.
There are more crucial needs to address than the running game, despite how
consistently bad it was last season. The Giants need to draft a linebacker,
especially now that Jonathan Goff has been allowed to test the free agency
market. Another wide receiver could also be added if New York
does not think they have any viable options for the third receiver.
Reese tends to take the best player available rather than addressing the
biggest need. For instance, Reese selected Jason Pierre-Paul when the Giants
already had Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora at defensive end.
So, if any of the top-five backs are available when the Giants select 32nd,
Reese may take him. Running back David Wilson out of Virginia Tech seems the
most likely of the premier prospects to still be available that late in the
first round, garnering a ranking of 47th best player from Kiper.
Walterfootball.com even has the Giants selecting Miller in the first round. If
waits until the later rounds to grab a back, here are three viable options for
Poole was a 1000 yard rusher in his junior season for the Vols, but there was
a steep decline in production last season, netting only 693 yards. He could be
someone that slips underneath the radar, and a steal for the Giants in the fifth
or sixth round. Of course, this pick would be based mostly on potential and the
glimpses of the player that Poole showed in 2009. If the Giants select Poole
this late in the draft, there would be a tremendous upside without much risk. New York
has had success with drafting running backs very late in the draft, as they took
Bradshaw in the seventh round.
If the Giants are looking for a back that they can flank out as a wide
receiver and design screens for, then Rainey is their guy. He ran a blistering
4.37 40-yard-dash at the combine, and played multiple positions for the Gators
last season. The Florida product rushed for 861 yards while also catching 31
passes for over 300 yards, totaling five touchdowns on the season. Rainey is
also a viable punt returner, something New York is always on the lookout for. Big Blue ranked
29th in average punt return yards and 21st in average kick return yards in 2011.
Mel Kiper Jr. has Rainey tabbed as the ninth best back in the draft.
Reese would have a hard time going against his tendency to choose the best
available player if Isaiah
Pead is still available in the third round. Scouts Inc. has him listed as
the sixth best running back in the draft and for good reason. The Bearcat rushed
for just under 1300 yards last year, and has a pension for getting into the end
zone, finding the promise land 13 times on the ground. Pead could be utilized as
a goal line back or third down back, similar to the way Jacobs was early on. New York
will need to replace Jacobs’ presence in the red zone, in which they ranked
ninth in scoring percentage in 2011.
Once April hits, New York will need to make a tough decision on which
running back to take if they do not address the need in free agency. It will be
hard for the Giants to repeat as Super Bowl champions if they rank last in
rushing yards again next season.
Chester Baker is a student at Fordham University in Pennsylvania and an
acting intern at Sports Media 101. The views and opinions expressed by Chester
may not be those of Giants 101.