There are some exciting RB prospects in this draft. Fournette and Cook head the list for many, including me. As with TEís there are many comments suggesting that the Giants need to take a RB in the 1st or 2nd round to get a viable RB that can contribute. I donít find that to be true. I began by using Draft Scoutsí and NLF.Comís lists of RB prospects to start shopping. I scanned some of the reviews and then headed to the video. I donít necessarily accept the reviews I read. In some instances I see the same things in the prospect, but in many, I just don't believe itís there. I know from past years that thereís often a lot of ďgroup thinkĒ among draft sites with the worst reviewers appearing to simply regurgitate what other reviewers have already written.
I believe the Giants need help at RB. Perkins has talent, but behind him there are largely question marks, and despite Perkinsí talent Iím not confident with the ability of any RB on the roster to consistently pick up tough, short yardage. But at the same time we also have a need for RBís that can do more than just that. I began by looking at the bigger guys as obvious candidates for short yardage skills. Unfortunately, Iíve seen things in their game that lead me to believe they may not be well equipped for that role. Fortunately, there are other less massive RBís who have skill at picking up this yardage, and who can also contribute to the overall running game. Iím going to highlight 3 of these.
But first, to outrage their many fans, I will list a number of running backs that are highly thought of by many that I definitely DONíT want.
I actually like Conner a lot and believe he has a shot at a fine NFL career. But since my priority is a knack for gaining short yardage, I canít include him. I think heíll have a lot more difficulty with this in the NFL than in school. He generates plenty of power in the open field, but less in small spaces, such as at the goal line, where he often has to resort to leaping. That may be a problem in the NFL.
Two of the three RBís come from smaller schools. But that doesnít mean that theyíre any smaller, slower or less skilled, only that some of their opponents arenít as tough as what they might find in the SEC for example, so theyíll have a steeper climb in the NFL than those who came from tougher conferences.
*** Jeremy McNichols *** Boise State, 5í9Ē, 212, Projects as 4th Round
2016 - 314 attempts, 1709 yards, 5.4 average, 23 TDís, 37 receptions for 474 yards & 4 TDís.
McNichols isnít small, heís short. Obviously highly productive in both the running and receiving game, but not a power back. However he has superb vision, reads blocking instantly, knows how to make himself small in the hole and use leverage, and usually falls forward for several yards. Exceptional balance too.
Heís a very smart runner who uses quickness, jump cuts and angles to elude defenders. While not truly fast, he can still eat up yardage. He also appears to be a willing and capable blocker and a much better than average receiver. Among other things, should fit well a 3rd down back.
He will likely get surgery on his labrum after the Combine. But thatís not usually that bad of a procedure, and he should be ready by training camp to start practicing.
*** Corey Clement *** Wisconsin, 5í10Ē, 221, Projects as 4th-5th Round.
2016 Ė 314 attempts, 1375 yards, 4.4 average, 14 TDís, 12 receptions for 132 yards & no TDís.
Reports are that Clement is an entitled bad a**. But thatís often a job description among NFL RBís. Heís usually not a homerun hitter either. But he is a good sized, physically solid, tough-nosed RB who is both generally productive and VERY adept at moving the sticks.
Clement isnít particularly fast, but he has some power, has good vision, uses his blockers well, has good pad level on contact with consequent leverage and generally falls forward. He can also field punts, and is often much more elusive than in his runs from scrimmage. Generally a willing blocker, but more of getting in the way than laying a hit.
While Draftscout projects him going in the 4th or 5th round, I wouldnít be surprised if he goes later due to his lack of serious speed and reputation as a P.I.A.
*** Aaron Jones *** UTEP, 5í10Ē, 205, Projects as 7th Round Ė UDFA
2016 Ė 229 attempts, 1773 yards, 7.7 average, 17 TDís, 28 receptions for 233 yards & 3 TDís.
Highly productive at a lower level of competition, and just an all-around good RB. Only average size, and not a power back, but runs with good pad level and leverage at the P.O.A. Excellent vision, follows blocks well with fine balance. Patient as a runner, rather than quick, but has some burst when needed, though not a speedster.
I first noticed him when viewing video of his teammate TE Hayden Plinke. Jones was the guy making all the yards and scoring the TDís that Plinke was blocking for. Couldnít find video of him from 2016. Accompanying video is from 2015 against a tough Razorback team. It gives a good flavor for what Jones is all about.