|Howard Simmons/New York Daily News|
By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
The NFL Draft is quickly approaching, as we get closer to the primetime opening round April 25th. This will be the first part in the series where I will discuss the current outlook and needs for the upcoming NFL Draft for the New York Giants.
The second position I will take a look at is Running Back.
At Running Back, the depth chart for the Giants goes David Wilson, Andre Brown (restricted free agent tender), Henry Hynoski, Da’Rel Scott and Ryan Torain. The Giants let two running backs from last season go in Ahmad Bradshaw, who was released and is still a free agent, and Kregg Lumpkin, also a free agent.
The Giants released long time starter Bradshaw in the offseason to create some cap space and seem ready to hand the reigns over to second-year back Wilson. Brown, who was having a breakout season before breaking his leg last season, should get a shot at competing with Wilson for getting some carries but heading into training camp and most likely the regular season Wilson will be atop the depth chart.
Wilson showed some of his homerun ability in the return game for the Giants last season and they will expect that again this season. The only thing holding Wilson back right now is his blocking ability in pass protection. Head coach Tom Coughlin needs to see improvement from Wilson to trust him blocking for franchise quarterback Eli Manning.
Wilson says that he ready to carry the load but anyone that has watched the Giants under Coughlin’s watch knows that he likes a two-running back system in a timeshare with the hot hand getting the touches throughout the game. Expect that again as neither Wilson nor Brown have been a number one feature back yet in their NFL careers.
Hynoski has quietly become a top fullback in the NFL. He does a great job opening up holes for the running backs and protecting Manning. He also has flashed some good hands out of the backfield when given the chance in the passing game, hauling in 11 passes last season for 50 yards and a touchdown.
The Giants are continuing to scour the free agent market for a third running back spot behind Wilson and Brown. Scott and Torain will get their cracks as well, but the Giants have brought in free agents such as Tim Hightower for a look.
The last time the Giants took a running back in the draft was last year in the first round with Wilson. The Giants can go in a number of different ways as the running back position is not one of pressing need but could potentially be if they are worried about the future of Brown.
Brown is recovering from a broken leg and will be playing on a one year tender, making his future beyond this season very cloudy. If they are to draft a running back, expect it to be in the mid to late rounds of the draft, much like they did with Brown in 2009 even though they had Brandon Jacobs and Bradshaw on the roster already.
One popular name amongst the Giants is Le’Veon Bell, a running back that has the size at 6’1” and 230 pounds to run with power out of the backfield but also presents a weapon in the passing game. But much like Wilson, his abilities in pass protection are not as high as teams would like and he does not have breakaway speed, but does posses some elusiveness and athleticism.
Another name to keep an eye on is Marcus Lattimore. The former South Carolina standout suffered another gruesome injury but looks to be recovering to have an NFL career. He is one player Jerry Reese and the Giants could target with two capable running backs already in the roster as a person to recover and make noise later in the season or seasons after. Taking the best player has been the Giants MO under Reese, so if Lattimore is there in the later rounds and he sits atop the Giants draft board do not be surprised if they call his name on draft day.
The Giants are not afraid to take running backs late and they have worked out in the past. Bradshaw was a seventh round pick for them as well as Scott so another name to keep an eye on is homegrown product Miguel Maysonet out of Stony Brook. The Giants have looked at him this offseason and he could potentially be a late round target as well. Anyone the Giants draft at the running back position will presumably be able to help in the return game as well, as Wilson’s offensive role is looking to increase this season his special team responsibilities may decrease.
On a scale of 1-10 the Giants need for a running back is right in the middle with a 5. The unknown status of Brown will either raise or lower this number; if he is healthy it will drop as the need will not be as high but if he cannot come back or isn’t ready to produce it can rise.