New York Giants running back David Wilson.
If New York Giants fans came away with one observation following the conclusion of Big Blue's first preseason matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, it had to be that rookie first-round pick David Wilson has some serious potential. Never mind the statistics, the speed and explosiveness that Wilson displayed throughout the night was electrifying, as he showed some consistent, yet remarkable ability to make plays.
However, the New York Giants finished last in the league in rushing a season ago, averaging only 89.2 yards per game. With that, the Giants offense transformed into a pass first, deep threat system that only used the run for complementary purposes. So with all that said, how could David Wilson ever possibly flourish in just his first season?
Let's take a look and find out.
In the NFL, speed kills. However, some running backs are known strictly for their straight-away speed (similar to Giants RB Da'Rel Scott), as others are just known for being elusive between the tackles, but David Wilson has the best of both worlds. In fact, not only does Wilson run a 4.4 40-yard dash, but as a senior at Virginia Tech, he led the nation with 990 yards after contact (267 yards more than Trent Richardson).
Wilson is not only one of the fastest running backs out there, he has the explosiveness and change of direction skills to complement his blazing speed. Similar to LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson has the ability to stop on a dime, change direction, and get back to top speed in the blink of an eye.
In order to come in as a rookie an be successful, the first criteria is to have all the physical tools to accomplish your assigned tasks. David Wilson has all the assets necessary in order to become a successful running back right off the bat.
Let's start this off by saying that David Wilson will not be Ahmad Bradshaw's backup running back in 2012. Both players are quick, undersized, powerful runners that can make plays out of the backfield. Their skill-sets are essentially the same.
With that, having one play in a backup role to the other would not only limit what the Giants do on short down and distance situations, but it would enable defenses to prepare a singular game plan for the Giants rushing attack. By allowing either D.J. Ware or Andre Brown to backup Ahmad Bradshaw, opposing defenses would have to prepare for two distinctly different styles of play.
So while Ahmad Bradshaw will most likely take the vast majority of carries in the early goings, David Wilson will gradually start to take carries away from him as the season wears on. Not only would this strategy avoid throwing Wilson to the wolves before he is ready, it would keep the Giants rushing attack as dynamic as possible.
However, Ahmad Bradshaw only played in 12 games last season. He has chronic pain in his foot, and is not as durable as he once was. If Ahmad Bradshaw goes down, David Wilson will see the vast majority of the snaps at halfback. This would enable him to see a significant, yet consistent workload, which would undoubtedly put him in a position to further showcase his elite ability.
We have already discussed David Wilson's versatility as a runner in between the tackles, after first contact and as a speedster capable of getting around the edge. However, we have not shed light upon Wilson's contributions outside the offense.
Special Teams is going to be a major aspect of Wilson's contributions, especially early on in the season when he's not seeing many carries. In the video above, Wilson is barely touched as he torched Georgia Tech's kickoff coverage for a 90 yard return to the endzone. However, as Giants fans, we have already seen Wilson's return skills
In the first quarter of the team's preseason game in Jacksonville, we saw Wilson return a kick all the way out to midfield. If teams continue to kick him the ball, Wilson could become a Desean Jackson-like threat on special teams.
The New York Giants are one of the few NFL organizations that are lucky enough to have both a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback and a Hall of Fame caliber coach at the same time. In short, Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin are experienced, and thoroughly understand how not to put players in a position to fail. This especially holds true for rookies.
David Wilson will not be put into unfamiliar situations that he is not prepared for. With that, he will not be used in ways that do not utilize his dynamic skill set. The Giants will not be overly cautious with the young rookie. However, at the same time, he will need some time to get used to the speed of the NFL game.
David Wilson will have the unique benefit of not having to be relied upon for much in the early goings of this season, which will help facilitate a smooth transition from college to the NFL. Look for him to have a significant impact as the season wears on.