New York Giants 2014 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56
Current Running Backs on NYG Roster:
Rashad Jennings – 29 – Signed through 2017
David Wilson – 23 – Signed through 2015
Peyton Hillis – 28 – Signed through 2015
Michael Cox – 26 – Signed through 2016
Kendall Gaskins – 24 – Signed through 2015
Where They Stand:
It’s been awhile since NYG has had a deep backfield filled with players that were legit 1,000+ yard caliber backs. While they never were centered around the running game, Coughlin always took pride in being able to control the clock with a reliable power rushing attack. This group really struggled last year. The offensive line took most of the blame but there simply wasn’t a guy that could handle the ball 20+ times per game. Jennings was brought in to provide the offense with an every down guy; one that can run between the tackles, beat defenders to the sideline, and catch the ball on the move. While he is older, Jennings has not spent much time as a feature back. He has a few good years left in him. Wilson continues to be the unknown. There is still legit hope that he can provide the big play ability. His issues with vision, ball security, and now a neck injury have slowed down his progress but there is still hope. He has an elite level of speed, agility, and explosion to work with. Hillis surprised many of us last year with an above average performance. He is a solid between the tackle runner that plays the game hard. Cox was given a few opportunities in 2013 but failed to show any big time upside. He’ll have to perform this offseason if a rookie is brought in if he plans on being in blue the whole year. Gaskins is a training camp body that doesn’t stand out in any one area of the game.
Top 10 Grades:
1 – Tre Mason – Auburn – 5’9/207: 81
2 – Bishop Sankey – Washington – 5’10/209: 79
3 – Carlos Hyde – Ohio State – 6’0/230: 76
4 – Jerick McKinnon – Georgia Southern – 5’9/209: 76
5 – Storm Johnson – Central Florida – 6’0/209: 76
6 – Jeremy Hill – LSU – 6’1/233: 75
7 – Ka’Deem Carey – Arizona – 5’9/207: 75
8 – Andre Williams – Boston College – 5’11/230: 73
9 – Tim Cornett – UNLV – 6’0/209: 73
10 – LaDarius Perkins – Mississippi State – 5’7/195: 72
Day One Target:
Tre Mason – Auburn
By no means do I think NYG should go after a RB in round 1 but for the sake of this preview, I’ll discuss Mason. I think Mason has the ideal frame/body to handle a full load of carries in the NFL. He is really strong and powerful below the waist with really good agility and flexibility. He played in a very run-oriented offense at Auburn which led to big time production on the stat sheet. That isn’t why I like him, however. Mason rarely goes down on initial contact and he can avoid big hits with late movement. He lacks the runaway speed but he is so quick out of the gate and can locate running lanes right away. He is the kind of reliable back you want in your backfield. I think he can be a better back than NYG has had since Barber.
Runner Up: NONE
Day Two Target:
Bishop Sankey – Washington
Sankey is a day back that I really like. I think he is a Barber-type back that looks a tad undersized and may not time out to be the most athletic player, but has the ability to make things happen all over the field. He shows outstanding vision on tape and is constantly making the right decisions. NYG will love his ability to block. He takes a lot of pride in it and was certainly a factor at Washington there. Sankey has every down potential and could be a guy that sneaks his way to the top level of NFL running backs within a few years.
Runner Up: Storm Johnson – Central Florida
I’ve spent a lot of time watching the UCF offense over the past 6 weeks and Johnson stood out to me just as much as Bortles did. There are some vital inconsistencies to his game but he showed big time ability every now and then. I like his running style because he’ll try to run through linebackers but also dance around defensive backs. I think he is a guy that can do it all but just needs to work on consistent pad level and leg drive. I have him graded higher than what I see out there, this grabbing him in round 3 would be a solid value pick.
Day Three Target:
Jerick McKinnon – Georgia Southern
The first time I saw McKinnon was against the Florida defense, a formidable SEC unit with a lot of talent. McKinnon appeared to be the best player on the field by a fairly wide margin. His short area explosion and runaway speed were obvious. McKinnon is powerfully built and he plays even stronger than he looks. If I had to make a list of 3 small school prospects that will make an impact in the NFL, McKinnon would be on it. If I can get him on day three, I would do it in a heartbeat.
Runner Up: Tim Cornett – UNLV
Cornett brings a high level of speed and explosion to the offense that translates well to the next level. He isn’t just a burner that needs the open field. He has an aggressive, almost reckless style to his game that I love to see out of young backs. He makes decisive cuts towards the running lane and can lower his shoulder with balance and power in to defenders. He isn’t a fun guy to play against. The UNLV all time leading rusher can be a factor at the next level as long as his body can hold up with his physical style.
There are a lot of holes on the NYG roster and I can’t see anyone coming up with the idea that it is near the top of the priority list. They have enough talent and diversity in their current group to get through the next couple of seasons. If they didn’t address the position, I wouldn’t have any problem with it. With that said, I think there is going to be some enormous opportunity for a value grab on day three. This RB class is actually pretty deep but the demand across the league is lower than its been in awhile. With that in mind, I would make it a point to see what is available at the position in round 6 and scoop someone up. While the confidence is there with the current NYG group, there is room for one more pair of fresh legs with the upside of one day being an steady contributor.