The New York Giants sorely missed a dominant run game in 2017. Eli Manning had always performed better when the Giants could effectively run the ball. Orleans Darkwa did perform relatively well, but his production is being compared to that of Paul Perkins, Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, and Shane Vereen. The Giants have not had a 1,000-yard rushing season since 2012 (thank you, Ahmad Bradshaw). The old school Giants were known for their ground and pound style of football. There is no question about how much better this team is when they have a productive run game. The Giants must find a running back in this draft. Here, I will give a few of the potential ways to improve the run game for the Giants this offseason.
The New York Giants Running Back Dilemma
Option 1: Draft Saquon Barkley Number Two Overall
This goes against everything I believe in. Although Manning is a great quarterback, he is 37 years of age and the Giants need to find his successor. Whether that be Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen, the first-round pick should be used on a quarterback. However, many people see Saquon Barkley as the player the Giants select at number two. He is the only running back that should be drafted this early, and he has been an absolute force on the field. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com went as far as to compare him to Barry Sanders. If Barkley becomes half the player Sanders was, he will be a fantastic NFL player.
At the NFL combine, he benched 29 reps of 225 pounds, ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash, and did 41 inches in the vertical jump. He has all of the tools to become one of the best running backs in the game. Barkley can become the replacement for Tiki Barber that the Giants have yet to find. The only way this is a smart pick is if the Giants feel Davis Webb will be a better quarterback than the quarterbacks in this draft.
Option 2: Mid-Round Draft Selection
This option makes much more sense for the Giants. Quarterback is the most valuable position in all of football. If the Giants find Manning’s successor there, he must be the selection. However, it would not be surprising to see the Giants select a running back between rounds two and four. The offensive line needs to be addressed. However, there will be plenty of running backs available in this running back heavy draft class. A few of these players are Sony Michel, Ronald Jones, Nick Chubb, Derrius Guice, and Kerryon Johnson. This is too deep of a running back class to use a first-round pick on one. Although, Barkley really is an enticing and can’t miss prospect.
Some of the best running backs in the NFL came out of the later rounds. Le’veon Bell, Kareem Hunt, David Johnson, Jordan Howard, and Devonta Freeman were all drafted outside the first round. Because of how many good running backs are drafted in later rounds, this option makes the most sense.
Option 3: Shore Up the Offensive Line
If the Giants want to run the ball better, a stronger offensive line is the logical way to address this problem. As seen with the L.A. Rams, once they addressed this issue, Todd Gurley became an MVP candidate. The Giants can do this by signing players and using their mid-round selections on lineman. Andrew Norwell has also been heavily linked with the Giants. This is not saying Darkwa or Wayne Gallman will become All-Pro running backs. However, they can very easily hit 1,000 rushing yard seasons behind a good offensive line.
It will be interesting to see how the Giants address this problem. Luckily, they have a few options on how to approach this. The Giants have not had an All-Pro running back since Barber. It is now time to address that and find the replacement they have been searching for.