The New York Giants were rumored to be interested in signing running back LeGarrette Blount throughout the offseason. However, Blount wound up signing with the Eagles after the Giants sent the veteran running back a lowball offer, leaving New York with the group of running backs currently on the roster. Should the Giants have ponied up more cash to get Blount, or should they be happy with the running backs already on the roster? Let’s take a look at the Giants depth at running back.
New York Giants Running Back Depth Chart Projections
Ben McAdoo recently named Perkins the team’s starting running back, a surprising move by a head coach who in the past reserved the right to make public declarations about the depth chart until after seeing the players perform on the field. But McAdoo made it very clear that it’s Perkins’ job to lose, which should not come as a shock after Perkins took the reins as the starter in Week 17 and in the playoff loss to the Packers.
In 14 games last year, Perkins carried the ball 112 times for 456 yards, good for 4.1 yards per carry, and added 15 receptions for 162 yards. However, the former UCLA Bruin will enter his second season still looking for his first NFL touchdown, as he failed to find the end zone during his rookie campaign. While he may not have scored, Perkins did flash the ability to make defenders miss. His yards per carry numbers were second on the Giants behind Shane Vereen, who carried the ball only 33 times all year.
While the coaching staff considered him a liability in pass protection towards the beginning of the year, Perkins worked hard all season to earn the coaches’ trust as a blocker. Between his speed and shiftiness as a runner, his pass-catching abilities, and his improved blocking capabilities, Perkins has the all-around skillset to stay on the field on any down or in any situation.
Vereen had his 2016 season cut short due to tearing his triceps twice. Appearing in only five games, Vereen had 33 rush attempts for 158 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and one touchdown. The 28-year old added 11 receptions for 94 yards as well, with almost all of his 2016 stats coming in New York’s first three games of the season.
After agreeing to a $1 million pay cut to stay with the team, Vereen is healthy and ready to re-take his role as the Giants’ pass-catching back. This was a role he thrived in during his first season with New York when he had 59 receptions for 495 yards and four touchdowns, all career-highs. When healthy, Vereen serves as a deadly weapon on the outside for Eli Manning. The Giants rely on Vereen’s versatility out of the backfield, as he provides Manning with yet another option in the passing game. While Perkins certainly can hold his own as a receiver, he’s a rushing back for the most part. Vereen can come in on passing downs and/or third downs, giving Perkins a chance to take a quick breather.
Gallman, the Giants’ fourth-round pick, played in a similar spread offense at Clemson that the Giants currently run. Gallman is known as being a downhill power runner with an NFL-ready body. Considering the Giants finished 29th in the NFL in rushing last season, Gallman will be a welcome addition to an all-of-a-sudden crowded backfield.
After rushing for 1,514 yards and 13 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore in 2015, Gallman followed that up with another impressive performance the next season, finishing the year with 1,133 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. The 22-year old Loganville, GA native was named to the All-ACC Second Team in both of those seasons, and contributed 85 total yards and a touchdown in Clemson’s National Championship win over Alabama.
With Perkins handling the early downs and Vereen the third down/passing situations, Gallman is not likely to get a ton of carries this season. However, McAdoo has hinted towards using a committee backfield this year, meaning the rookie should get his opportunity to impress the coaches and earn more playing time. The best chance Gallman has of getting valuable carries is if he can prove to be useful on third/fourth and short and goal line situations. During his time at Clemson, Gallman showed a very strong second effort near the goal line after his initial charge was stopped. If he can continue to keep his feet moving after contact, and show McAdoo and Co. that he can pick up the first down or touchdown on short yardage situations, then Gallman could end up seeing a lot of high-pressure carries this season.
While it may not seem like it, Darkwa has averaged four yards per carry over the last two seasons (albeit with just 66 total carries). The most impressive part about this? Darkwa played the last two years with a fractured tibia. After undergoing surgery to insert a plate into his leg in early December, Darkwa re-signed with the Giants on a one-year deal. The 25-year-old is finally feeling healthy again, and vows “the best is yet to come.”
Darkwa is likely to start the season as the team’s fourth running back. Although he may not get many carries this year, Darkwa has proven in the past to be one of the Giants’ core special teams players, and will continue to see a lot of playing time there. His abilities on punts and kickoffs are what make him valuable to New York.
Of all the running backs currently on New York’s roster, Draughn is the one to most likely be the odd man out. The Giants signed the veteran to a one-year, $1 million contract, but only $100,000 is guaranteed. Draughn had 74 rushing attempts for 196 yards (2.6 yards per carry) and four touchdowns last year with the 49ers, adding career-highs in receptions (29), receiving yards (263), and receiving touchdowns (two).
Draughn, at 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, looked like a lock to make the roster before the Giants drafted Gallman. But the rookie out of Clemson, listed as 6’0″ and 215 pounds, has a very similar body type to the veteran, thus making Draughn somewhat expendable. However, the Giants did target the veteran in free agency, so it’s possible they have a specific role in mind for him. If Draughn is able to stick with New York, it will make the Giants his seventh team in seven years.