David Wilson: New York Giants Rookie RB Shows True Value as Return Ace

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Running back David Wilson #22 of the New York Giants avoids a tackle by kicker Alex Henery #6 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 30, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Despite another loss to bitter rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, rookie David Wilson's performance provides some consolation for the New York Giants.

The 32nd overall pick finally showed signs of life after three frustrating weeks. Wilson was a standout performer for the G-Men, as he tormented the Eagles with a series of exciting kick returns.

His proficiency in the return game showcased the big-play potential the Giants drafted him for. In a tight defensive struggle, Wilson frequently gave Big Blue's offense favourable field position.

In all, he returned six kicks for over 217 yards at a 36-yard average. He also had another big run back wiped out by a penalty. In fact, had it not been for costly penalties and turnovers by the offense, Wilson's returns would have won the Giants the game.

Particular highlights from Wilson's performance included a 45-yard return to set the Giants up to tie the game at 10-10 in the third quarter. He also blazed his way through the bewildered Philadelphia special teams to give Eli Manning great field position for what might have been the game-winning drive.

Head coach Tom Coughlin has struggled to find ways to incorporate Wilson after his fumble in the running game against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown split the carries last night.

Freezing him out of the running game and consigning him to special teams duty can work wonders for Wilson. He was a dangerous return man at Virginia Tech and gives the Giants an element they have lacked for years.

Big Blue hasn't possessed a truly prolific return ace since the days of Dave Meggett. Wilson can answer that need and provide a major boost to an already dangerous offense.

Think what Manning and his receivers will be able to do with consistently favourable field position. Wilson currently ranks eighth in the NFL in kick-return yardage.

He is averaging 30.2 yards from 13 returns. He has taken 10 back over 20 yards and three over 40. Coughlin should consider expanding his return duties to include running back punts.

Turning a first-round running back into a full-time returner may seem like devaluing the pick. However, consider the number of games Devin Hester has won for the Chicago Bears over the years or what Desmond Howard did for the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl run in 1996.

Teams don't put enough stock in the value of a productive kick returner. That's until they have one and are benefiting from his yards each week.

Granted, Wilson's breakout rookie performance is scant consolation for the Giants after a second divisional defeat. However, Wilson has added an extra dimension to the defending Super Bowl champions that can pay huge dividends as the season progresses.