New York Giants: 5 Options at Running Back with Ahmad Bradshaw Sidelined
The New York Giants already had a need at the running back position after cutting veteran Brandon Jacobs this offseason, but that need has become much more desperate with news regarding Ahmad Bradshaw.
ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk is reporting that Bradshaw will sit for three months after receiving an injection of bone marrow to help his foot heal.
With Bradshaw unavailable for OTAs and his presence in training camp currently uncertain, the Giants find themselves in a difficult predicament.
The Giants have minimal options behind Bradshaw. Unproven 2011 seventh-rounder Da’Rel Scott, mediocre DJ Ware and recently suspended Andre Brown are not likely up to the task for the Giants.
Fortunately, the 2012 NFL draft presents a class stocked full of talented players who could potentially fill the defending Super Bowl champions’ need until Bradshaw is fully healed. If the Giants don’t like the idea of laying such a heavy workload on a rookie back, there are still great options to be found in free agency or on the trade block.
Let’s take a look at the options the Giants still have at their disposal this offseason.
The New York Giants have never been big players on the trade market. Then again, there has never been a player quite as talented or needed as the Carolina Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart.
Stewart is a lethal back with great size, speed and power. He is a capable No. 1 option, though he has spent his career as the backup for DeAngelo Williams, splitting carries with the Panthers stud.
With the acquisition of running back Mike Tolbert this offseason, it is possible Stewart could be expendable.
Stewart’s production has taking a dip in the past two seasons, but that is more a result of the team’s lackluster performance and then the addition of dynamic rookie quarterback Cam Newton to the offense’s output.
Unfortunately, the Giants may not have the pieces in places to make a trade like this. Much of the Giants’ youth are valuable players on the squad and outside of Osi Umenyiora, there may not be a player on the roster the Giants would be willing to trade.
The Giants may be willing to give up a second-round pick in this year’s draft coupled with some later-round picks, but the Panthers might be seeking a first-round pick in return for a player of Stewart’s caliber.
Lamar Miller is one of the 2012 NFL draft’s best running backs, boasting 4.4 speed and the ability to be a productive every-down back in the NFL.
Miller has great change-of-direction skills and is a superb receiver out of the backfield—something the Giants should find valuable for their elite passing attack.
The former Hurricane has risen up draft boards and will garner a lot of attention come draft time. Fortunately, the drop in priority at the running back position around the league should enable the Giants to select this crafty back with their first-round pick.
Able to carry the load in the meantime, Miller would make a phenomenal combination with Ahmad Bradshaw once he has returned from injury.
Chris Polk is another one of the draft’s top running backs and has seen his stock rise quite a bit as of late.
Polk fills a hole left by Brandon Jacobs, being a strong, power back capable of moving the chains on third downs and forcing his way into the end zone. The Giants have yearned for a player capable of making the short-yardage plays, despite having the bulldozer that was Brandon Jacobs on the roster.
Polk could also be an every-down back in the NFL, though that is a lost practice in the NFL today. With Bradshaw hurt, Polk should be able to carry the load, however, and would be an easy transition from Jacobs in the backfield—hopefully with more of the production the Giants expected from Jacobs.
Utah State’s Robert Turbin is just the mid-round steal at running back that the New York Giants adore.
Turbin is a vicious, hard-nosed runner who brutalized opposing tacklers on every play. He displays good vision and is a top-notch inside runner.
Turbin was productive during his collegiate career with 3,315 rushing yards and over 40 touchdowns for the Aggies as a three-year starter.
He showcases above-average speed and power, providing a good change of pace from Ahmad Bradshaw when he returns. He can also be a valuable asset for the Giants on his own, wearing down opposing defenses with every run.
The New York Giants have moved from a rush-first offense to a team that finds most of its offensive success through the air. Tim Hightower, a back who has had good success running the football but does not command the rock, could be a good free agent option.
Hightower was off to a torrid start for the Washington Redskins in 2011 before an ACL injury removed him from the equation. He could be a question mark coming back this season, but if he is healthy, he may be worth the shot for the time being.
Hightower is a good runner with pretty good vision and the capability to be a productive contributor for any offense. In addition, he is a phenomenal receiver out of the backfield and flourished while doing so during his time with the Arizona Cardinals.
In a similar, high-flying pass offense with the Giants, Hightower would be a capable target for Eli Manning and could help open up the other Giants receivers.
Hightower has also proved to be a legitimate red zone threat. He has tallied 24 rushing touchdowns in four NFL seasons. The four-year veteran is a good acquisition for any team looking to bolster their running game and will come at a very affordable price tag—something the Giants can enjoy with minimal salary cap space remaining.