Entering this years NFL Draft, the defending Super Bowl champions might seem to need a linebacker and offensive lineman more than any other position. However, when taking a deeper look at the New York Giants roster, a third position stands out with a glaring opening.
The running back position took a hit when free agent Brandon Jacobs decided to sign with the San Francisco 49ers. Sure, Ahmad Bradshaw is still with Big Blue, and will be the starter. Bradshaw has said he would like to take on a bigger workload, but can he do it? Bradshaw is still dealing with a foot issue that hampered him most of last season. After receiving an injection of bone marrow from his hip to his foot, the veteran is expected to rest for up to three weeks in hopes of being ready for training camp.
Bradshaw has successfully played through injury before. How long he can continue to do so is uncertain, but, for now, you have to think he will be able to play and be the regular starter in the Giants backfield. That still leaves the backup position up for grabs.
Andre Brown was expected to battle D.J. Ware and Da’Rel Scott for the backup running back spot. However, Brown was recently suspended by the NFL for the first four games of 2012 for violating the leagues performance-enhancing substances policy. Even before the suspension, Giants fans couldn’t have felt overly confident in the running back situation. Now, down a player, the Giants could look to fill the role through the upcoming draft.
While the running backs are not expected to fill up the top picks this season, there are a handful of very adequate players. Alabama’s Trent Richardson and Miami’s Lamar Miller will likely be taken before the Giants pick comes up at the end of Round 1. Chris Polk out of Washington could fall to the Giants. Polk is a downhill bruiser. I don’t see the Giants using their first round pick on Polk, however.
A more likely scenario is that they will look at the second or third rounds. Now, here is the tricky part. Which players will fall to the late second round or late third round where the Giants will have the ability to draft with trading up?
Boise State’s Doug Martin would be the ideal pick for the Giants. Martin is the most complete back in the draft following Richardson. He has the combination of power and speed as well as being a good receiver out of the backfield. This would be a huge get for the G-Men if Martin was to somehow fall to the late second round. Or do they stretch and take him in the 1st? Regardless, I don’t see the pieces falling the right way for this to happen.
There are three backs that I could see falling to the Giants in the second round. David Wilson (Virginia Tech), Isaiah Peed (Cincinnati), and LaMichael James (Oregon). Each of the three could be a nice draft pick. Wilson would be my preferred choice here. He is an explosive back that is dangerous any time he has the ball in his hands. He proved to be one of the most athletic backs at the combine this year, leading his position with an 11′ broad jump and 41″ vertical leap. He also clocked in with a 4.4 40-yard dash.
Peed, a Big East product, is thought to have a lot of upside. He is a shifty runner that has breakaway speed if he can get by the initial defenders. He was one of Cincinnati’s most productive backs ever.
James could help the Giants in multiple ways. He would provide a change of pace out of the backfield and be able to run and catch. Sure, he played in a unconventional offense at Oregon but the kid can flat out play. In addition to running back, James could be a threat in the return game, something the Giants have lacked the last few years.
If New York misses out on a running back in the first two rounds, Bernard Pierce (Temple) and Robert Turbin (Utah State) could be there for the taking in round three. I don’t see Pierce as a fit with this team. He’s more of a power back with patience. Turbin could be useful and a steal in the third round.
If the Giants choose to fill their other needs and wait on a running back in the later rounds, there are a handful of names they could take a look at. Some of those may be: Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State), Cyrus Gray (Texas A&M), Chris Rainey (Florida), Vick Ballard (Mississippi State), and Dan Herron (Ohio State).
While nagging injuries continue to hold Bradshaw down, the Giants will need to add depth at the position if not pick up an impact player. I’m on the impact player side more than strictly depth. Even if Bradshaw can handle a larger workload this season, you have to wonder just how durable his future will be.
A first round pick on a running back would not bother me in the least. I am hoping the Giants will at least snag a guy like Wilson or James in the second round.