Although there is optimism that running back David Wilson, who’s currently recovering from neck surgery from Jan. 21, will be able to return in 2014, B/R Sports Medicine Lead Writer Will Carroll points out that there is still a lot of unknowns in Wilson’s situation.
“Neck surgery is not like knee surgery where you can see him run. Everything appears stable, but we really don’t have much of a football sense of where he is,” Carroll said.
Carroll also notes how Wilson, by virtue of the position he plays, is going to be subject to hits from all angles, hits that will put pressure on his neck. While Carroll agrees that Wilson should be able to come back, he also ponders there might be a hit in Wilson’s future that is going to reaggravate his neck issue.
The long-term uncertainty about Wilson might just be the reason why the Giants signed former Oakland Raiders running back Rashad Jennings to a four-year deal that Spotrac reports is worth $10 million.
The team also re-signed Peyton Hillis to a two-year deal, presumably to be a change-of-pace back and to work in third-down packages.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Hillis tied with Alfred Morris of Washington as the 10th-best running back in pass protection, with a pass-blocking efficiency score of 95.8. (Hillis pass blocked more than Morris despite taking fewer overall snaps on passing downs).
The Giants also have Michael Cox, who is entering his second season after being drafted in the seventh round last year.
Per PFF, Cox took 38 snaps on offense. Of the 14 that were passing plays, Cox was asked to pass block only three times, a stat that suggests that he wasn’t effective as a pass-blocker.
While the Giants will probably continue to develop Cox, I'd be surprised if they also don't bring in competition for that roster spot.
Although Cox ran behind a porous offensive line last year and averaged 2.0 yards per carry, his 1.3 yards after contact stat wasn't very impressive.
If the Giants are indeed looking for a young running back to compete with Cox, I think they’ll look to address this need on Day 3, perhaps as soon as the fifth round.
I really like Wisconsin’s James C. White (5’9”, 204 pounds) whom NFL Draft Scout described as “the Badgers’ best all-around back.” Per Draft Scout's analysis, White has good burst and power, despite his smallish size, and is “attentive and competitive” as a pass-blocker.
Since offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has said that he wants running backs who can protect the quarterback, any college prospect who has an understanding of how to execute those blocks and do so with any degree of consistency would probably earn some extra points on the Giants’ value board.