New York Giants: Running Back Should Still Be in NFL Draft Plans

Just because the New York Giants are keeping Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa doesn’t mean the team won”t select a running back in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The New York Giants handed Shane Vereen his roster bonus of $500,000 (per NFL.com) on March 13 and re-signed restricted free agent Orleans Darkwa (per NJ.com) to a fairly cheap one-year deal . With those moves, Big Blue now has six running backs under contract, three of those most likely ending up on the practice squad. The G-Men carried four active running backs on the roster in 2016, so one would think they’re not done filling out that position. As Kenneth Teape of Empire Write Back points out, ESPN would agree.

Most Giants fans would agree that the running back by committee approach hasn’t worked since the Super Bowl championship season in 2011, when Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs split carries. One could blame that dynamic’s lack of efficacy on the fact not one Giants running back can stay healthy for a full 16-game slate. Nor has a running back shown any kind of consistency over a significant stretch.

The roster bonus bestowed upon Shane Vereen is an indicator the Giants are willing to give him “one more chance to prove himself,” per the NY Post‘s Paul Schwartz, but it’s not a guarantee he sees opening day in a Giants uni. The Giants could still release Vereen and save enough money to pursue free agents such as Latavius Murray.

Even if that were the case, the Giants can’t afford to ignore a running back in the 2017 NFL Draft. The position group that requires the utmost attention in the draft has to be offensive lineman and linebacker. Beyond that, however, Big Blue would be wise to pick up a runner who complements Paul Perkins. That back could be Stanford Cardinal star Christian McCaffrey, a pass-catcher and return specialist who could supplant Vereen and over-priced Dwayne Harris.

McCaffrey will be long gone by the time the Giants are on the clock in the second round. Given the concerns around the offensive line and the lack of depth in the draft class, the Giants will probably have to use their first rounder to fortify that the O-line.

The running back candidate who makes the most sense in the draft is big Texas Longhorns bruiser D’Onta Foreman who stands at 6-0 and weighs in at 233 pounds. The 2016 Doak Walker Award winner led the Big 12 in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. NFL.com Draft Analyst Lance Zierlein compared Foreman to long-time Carolina Panthers back Jonathan Stewart, citing Foreman’s “tremendous conversion rate when short yardage is needed.” If that doesn’t convince the Giants to take Foreman in the third or fourth round, nothing will.

Picture this: A short-to-go or goal-line situation. The Giants send in their heavy personnel. Both Orleans Darkwa and D’Onta Foreman are in the backfield, with Rhett Ellison lining up in front of them and an extra offensive lineman (Brett Jones?) leading the charge. No matter what play you run, that’s a conversion.

If the Giants do keep Vereen and don’t add a free agent, Vereen will be the highest paid running back with a cap hit of nearly $5 million (per Spotrac). That translates to a lot of pressure on Vereen to produce. And that means Giants fans should see a lot of touches for him. Can Vereen handle such an intense workload? History says no. But, the trio of Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa, and D’Onta Foreman appears to be a viable solution and incredible insurance plan.

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