Scott Thompson, SNY.tv | Twitter |
"The Giants need a run game this season" is a phrase that is definitely easier said than done, and one that has been said for a few years now.
The ground game has consistently slacked for a few years now, and the Giants would like that streak to end. Just think: Ahmad Bradshaw was the last 1,000-yard rusher for this team back in 2010...
Last season, Paul Perkins was supposed to be the guy to change that. After posting good numbers in his rookie season (4.1 YPC/456 yards), he was set to be the featured back that would give Eli Manning's arm a rest, and allow a different dynamic to work within the offense. But that didn't pan out as predicted.
Perkins sustained a rib injury in Week 4, and would miss three straight weeks. But his production before the injury was nothing to write home about, which prompted Orleans Darkwa to step up. Darkwa performed well after receiving more handoffs, and it threw Perkins to the back of the depth chart as he worked back from his injury.
Darkwa posted a solid 4.4 yards per carry on 171 attempts last season -- the most he has seen entering the league in 2014. However, he is set to be a free agent this offseason. The Giants will need to decide if he is worth the money to bring back with other pressing needs out there like the offensive line.
Wayne Gallman also saw some good production in his rookie season. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry on 111 attempts, as he showcased his agility and power in the backfield.
But, at the end of the regular season, the Giants saw themselves again at the bottom of the pack in rushing (26th to be exact). The stigma that the Giants have no ground game wants to be broken, especially by new GM Dave Gettleman and HC Pat Shurmur. They already know a revamped offensive line is needed, and they will work toward that this offseason. But a new playmaker in the backfield, someone that they can trust to put consistent numbers on the stat sheet every day could be needed as well. And there is no better source than the NFL Draft.
Here are some prospects to look for come April:
Saquon Barkley -- Penn State
Take arguably the best overall play in the draft, or looking toward the future with a potential franchise quarterback at No. 2? That is the ultimate question.
Saquon Barkley is a can't-miss prospect in almost every scout's eyes as he draws comparisons to the likes of Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson to name a couple. At 5-foot-11, 223 pounds, Barkley is everything you want in a devastating back. He has the explosive speed, quick moves, and wrecking-ball like power that has made him a standout Nittany Lion for the past two years. Barkley is a physical specimen that many believe doesn't come around often, which is why everyone is so high on him.
The Giants will likely scout him hard at the Combine, but are they looking for an immediate solution to their offense. Barkley will certainly make an impact in his rookie season no matter where he goes, but the Giants have been linked to quarterbacks even before the season ended. Manning is obvioulsy dwindling, and they may not have the chance to draft a QB this high in the future.
But this isn't just any running back. This is a guy that has been projected by some to be better than Ezekiel Elliott was coming out of Ohio State. If the Giants want an immediate solution to a position that has lacked production for years, then Barkley is definitely a need.
Sony Michel -- Georgia
The Bulldogs touted a running-back tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb (who we'll get to in just a bit) that was absolutey devastating. It was their rushing game that propelled their offense to make the National Championship game, but if scouts had to pick one of the backs coming out of Georgia, many point at Michel.
If the Giants pass up on Barkley and take a quarterback, they will probably have their fingers crosed to get Michel in the second round because some believe he won't make it past the first day. Averaging 7.9 yards per carry and recording 16 touchdowns in 2017, Michel's agility and ankle-breaking cuts allow him to generate yards after contact, and when he sees open field, forget about it.
He would have likely been an every-down back if Georgia hadn't boasted a powerhouse lineup, but that will change in the NFL, especially if he gets to New York. Michel can do it all, and being the playmaker he is at the position, he is certainly the next best option from Barkley.
Sony Michel displays several position-specific qualities in one run pic.twitter.com/YZPLXIYu4M- Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) February 18, 2018
Derrius Guice -- LSU
Bring in another Tigers playmaker to the offense? Why not.
Guice worked behind Leonard Fournette in 2016, and after Fournette saw a couple injuries, he put himself in the spotlight. Im 2017, he was the featured back for LSU, and he didn't disappoint with 5.3 yard per carry for 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. It probably helped the Giants that he was also a little banged up this season, which could hurt his draft stock.
It will be telling to see what Guice produces at the Combine, but what is defnitely known is he is a tough, powerful, and deceptively quick back that can certainly give the Giants a push in the backfield. And it also helps that he is good friends with fellow LSU alum Odell Beckham Jr.
Nick Chubb -- Georgia
Working with Michel in the Bulldogs' dominant rushing attack, Chubb had the better numbers at 6.0 yards per carry for 1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. But many look back on his 2015 knee injury as a hindrance to his NFL production.
However, Chubb showed that his speed and agility are back after crafty runs last season that had him up as a early Heisman candidate. At 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, Chubb also has the power to pick up those short yardage plays as well as brekaout for huge gains.
The Giants could definitely see Chubb in the second round as well as the third if it works out that way. He would be a great compliment to quicker backs like Gallman and Perkins, and he could certainly be a featured back in the future. The Giants may hope that teams sleep on him.
After breaking two tackles that nearly stops all momentum at the 43-yard mark, Nick Chubb hits 20.45 MPH by the 15-yard mark. 20.45 MPH over 28 net yards gained is elite. pic.twitter.com/NBz9UrMC73- Fusue Vue (@lifesyourcup) February 5, 2018
Bo Scarbrough -- Alabama
The Giants could very well decide to go with other more pressing draft picks like the offensive line or linebacker before they address a running back in April. However, they could still find a guy that would make an impact in 2018.
Scarbrough left too early, according to multiple scouts, but it may have been the best move with players like Damien and Najee Harris likely to see a lot of carries for the Crimson Tide in 2018. Because of this early departure, Scarbrough's draft stock is a mid to late-rounder, but that could benefit the Giants in the long run.
At 6-foot-2, 228 pounds, Scarbrough runs like a tank, barrling over anything in his path. He may not have the best cuts, but his size compared with impressive speed makes up for it. Like Chubb, Scarbrough is a perfect compliment to the smaller backs already with the Giants.
What I like about Scarbrough the most, though, is the fact that many doubt his ability to succeed in the NFL. He could use that as fuel to prove everyone wrong, and in the end, help the Giants if they draft him.