By Michael Stewart
Introduction: It’s still unclear on whether or not the New York Giants will hold onto the 2nd overall pick or trade back for additional picks. While many mock drafts have the Giants selecting a quarterback, other mock draft has the Giants going running back. Now the last time the Giants drafted a running back was in 2012 when they selected Virginia Tech RB David Wilson with 32nd pick. In fact, the last time anyone drafted a RB with the 2nd overall pick was the New Orleans Saints in the 2006 NFL draft when they selected Reggie Bush of USC. Whether or not the Giants draft a quarterback or trade back, this year’s class at running back is deep and full of talented players. Courtesy of Walterfootball.com, let’s look at this year’s running back class.
Saquon Barkley-5’11/230 (Penn State): Barkley has devastating quickness to hit the hole and accelerate downfield. Along with great speed, he has tremendous balance, vision, cutting ability, elusiveness and power. Barkley looks like a better prospect than Ezekiel Elliott, and is proving that he is a prospect of similar caliber to players like Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley. There is no doubt that Barkley is an elite prospect and currently is the top offensive skill-position prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. He is in the running to be the top prospect at any position.
Derrius Guice-5’11/218 (LSU): Guice averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 2017, totaling 1,251 yards with 11 touchdowns. He had 18 catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns as well. Guice was banged up and missed the Week 5 game against Troy with a knee injury. Late in the regular season, Guice was looking better and seemed to regain some of his speed as he got healthier. Guice is a tough runner with speed, strength, good instincts, and running ability. He could be a good three-down starter in the NFL.
Rashaad Penny-5’10/220 (San Diego State): Penny ran well as a senior, using his size to roll over a lot of weak opponents. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry for 2,248 yards with 23 touchdowns, plus made 19 receptions for 135 yards and two scores. As a junior, Penny averaged 7.4 yards per carry for 1,005 yards with 11 touchdowns. He caught 15 passes for 224 yards and three scores that season as well.
Sony Michel-5’11/215 (Georgia): Michel averaged 7.9 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,227 yards with 16 touchdowns. He would be a three-down starter at most schools, but Georgia has a huge stable of backs whom the coaches spread carries to. Team sources have told WalterFootball.com that Michel has a lot of fans in the scouting community and is receiving second-day grades. Some even prefer him over Nick Chubb because Michel did more in the passing game as a receiver and blocker during his collegiate career.
Nick Chubb-5’10/225 (Georgia): Chubb averaged 6.0 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns. The senior had two receptions for 20 yards as well. His production was suppressed by Georgia splitting the carries among a huge stable of backs (Sony Michel). Scouting sources liked what they saw from Chubb in 2017, and he looked back to his old form. Chubb is faster, more physical, tougher to tackle and more decisive than he was in 2016.
Kerryon Johnson-5’11/212 (Auburn): In 2017, Johnson averaged 4.9 yards per carry for 1,391 yards with 18 touchdowns. He also had 24 receptions for 194 yards and two scores. Johnson was the workhorse for Auburn in 2017 and the team engine for their second-half surge. He has second-day potential for the 2018 NFL Draft.
L.J Scott-6’1/230 (Michigan State): Scott averaged 4.5 yards per carry in 2017 for 898 yards and eight touchdowns. He totaled 20 receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown as well. Scott is a talented runner who needs to improve his ball security.
Royce Freeman-5’11/238 (Oregon): Freeman averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 1,475 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also had 14 receptions for 164 yards as well. Freeman was the bell cow back for the Ducks with a combination of power and speed. Scouts projected him to be a three down back in the NFL.
Josh Adams-6’1/225 (Notre Dame): Adams ran really well in 2017 behind arguably the best offensive line in college football. Adams is a physical runner using his size to be more of a downhill power back with deceptive quickness to break off long runs.
Bo Scarbrough-6’1/232 (Alabama): Scarbrough averaged 4.8 yards per carry in 2017 for 596 yards with eight touchdowns. He had 17 receptions for 109 yards as well. Scarborough has the upside to produce more, but Damien Harris served as Alabama’s feature back while others were splitting carries with Scarbrough.
Lavon Coleman-5’11/228 (Washington): Coleman averaged 4.6 yards per carry for 407 yards with four touchdowns. He had 13 receptions for 155 yards as well. He was the power-back backup to Myles Gaskin,
Kalen Ballage-6’2/230(Arizona State): Ballage is a backup power-back candidate for the NFL as a late-rounder or, more than likely, an undrafted free agent. He might be better off moving to fullback. In 2017, the senior averaged 4.3 yards per carry for 657 yards and six touchdowns. As a junior, Ballage had 536 yards with 14 touchdowns on the ground. He made 44 catches for 469 yards and a touchdown as well that season.
Final Thoughts: At some point during the 2018 draft the Giants should be selecting a running back; unless they decide to sign one during free agency. The 2018 running back class is deep with talent in every round, so I expect GM Dave Gettleman to look at the draft for a running back. They can go in many directions from the 1st round (possibly Saquon Barkley) to the 6th round (traded 7th round pick for CB Ross Cockrell last season).