The Giants got good grades (unintentional alliteration) from the critics when they drafted Andre Brown in the fourth round. Many had ranked Brown as a potential second round pick, and CBS sports even ranked him as the fifth best running back in the draft. So when the talented back from North Carolina State fell to the Giants at pick 129, I'm sure Jerry Reese was ecstatic.
In 2008, Brown set a personal record with 175 carries, 767 yards, and 7 touchdowns although he posted the lowest yards/carry of his career (4.4). In four years of college, Brown totaled 498 carries, 2539 yards, and 22 touchdowns on the ground, with a 5.1 yards/carry. He also added 70 receptions for 631 yards and 2 touchdowns.
One concern is his health, as he fractured his left foot in 2007 and had surgery again in 2008. He appears to be fully recovered.
Brown has many strengths: he is a smart player, a strong runner, a good receiver, and blocker. He may not have track-star speed, and he isn't the shiftiest of runners, but he does enough things right to be a quality running-back. Some have compared him to Derrick Ward, the player he will be competing to replace.
Brown will face some heavy competition for the role of Brandon Jacobs' change-of-pace back. Ahmad Bradshaw, who was the No. 3 back last season, is the most logical choice to move into Ward's vacated role of "Wind" to Jacobs' "Earth." And then there's Danny Ware, who has impressed in pre-season, but has always been buried in the Giants' depth chart.
This should be a battle that is fought through training camp into the pre-season, as all three backs will be given an opportunity to prove that they deserve more time on the field.
If I had to guess (which I don't, but I will) I'd say Bradshaw finally gets to show that his performance during the 2007 Super Bowl run was not a fluke. His speed, elusiveness, and ability to be a tough inside runner is a perfect compliment to Brandon Jacobs' style of power running.
It should be a closer battle for the No. 3 spot. Ware has patiently waited his turn, and I'd like to see the Giants finally give him a chance to come into his own. However, they spent a fourth round pick on Andre Brown and they need to see what they have in him and give him some seasoning. Of any of the three backups, I believe he is most likely to become a feature back.
Again, If I had to guess, I'd say that Bradshaw will be the clear No. 2 guy, but will not receive as many carries (182) as Ward did last season. That will allow both Ware and Brown to see the field on offense, with Brown receiving more carries. They may also contribute on special teams.
No matter how the running back situation shakes out, there is one thing I am sure of: the Giants have an impressive stable of young and talented backs. What makes it even more impressive is the fact that none of them were drafted before the fourth round. Jacobs and Brown were fourth rounders, Bradshaw a seventh rounder, and Ware an undrafted free agent.
That is a true testament to the drafting of Jerry Reese and Ernie Accorsi in recent years.