NFL Draft 2011: The Top 10 Running Backs the New York Giants Should Consider

Collin BerglundCorrespondent IIIApril 19, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: The Top 10 Running Backs the New York Giants Should Consider

0 of 10

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19:  Brandon Jacobs #27 of the New York Giants runs with the ball against  the Philadelphia Eagles during their game on December 19, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Get
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Uncertainty reigns supreme for the New York Giants at running back for the 2011 NFL season.  In the NFL draft, the Giants will likely take a long, hard look at some of the best college prospects.

    While the Giants had one of the better dual threats in football last season in Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, Bradshaw is a free agent, while Jacobs is under contract for two more seasons.  Fans, pundits and experts have wondered if the Giants can afford to keep both players.

    If Bradshaw leaves, the Giants need a running back to complement Jacobs.  If Jacobs is traded, the Giants need a running back to complement Bradshaw.  If both stay, it never hurts to have a guy on reserve in case of injury.

    These are the running backs the Giants will likely look at the hardest. 

Mark Ingram (Alabama)

1 of 10

    ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 01:  Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the Capitol One Bowl against the Michigan State Spartans at the Florida Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2011 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by M
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Mark Ingram is the best running back in the NFL draft.  It is unlikely he will be around when the Giants pick in the first round, but if he is, the Giants should strongly consider picking the former Heisman winner.

    While the Giants don't need to take a running back in the first round, Ingram's value would be too much to pass up, even with his knee problems.

Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech)

2 of 10

    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 04:  Ryan Williams #34 of the Virginia Tech Hokies runs with the ball against the Florida State Seminoles during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Get
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Although he missed part of last season with a hamstring injury, Williams was one of the best backs in the ACC in 2009.  

    Williams would provide a similar change-of-pace to a game as Bradshaw.  He has quick feet and is one of the more agile backs in the draft.

    Williams would be a likely second-round target for the Giants.

Mikel Leshoure (Illinois)

3 of 10

    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 20: Mikel Leshoure #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini runs on his way to a 339 yard rushing performance against the Northwestern Wildcats during a game played at Wrigley Field on November 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Illinois defeated
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Leshoure has a rare blend of speed and power and could go to the Giants as early as the first round, but is more likely to fall to Round 2.  With Illinois last season, Leshoure rushed for 1,697 yards and 17 touchdowns.  

    A big back at 5'11" and 227 pounds, Leshoure is able to take the pounding his bruising running style requires.

    While Leshoure is still a raw receiver, the Giants would give him the opportunity to improve and learn behind one of their other backs.

Daniel Thomas (Kansas State)

4 of 10

    BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 20:  Daniel Thomas #8 of the Kansas State Wildcats rushes with the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on November 20, 2010 in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado defeated Kansas State 44-36.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Another relatively big back at 6'0" and 230 pounds, Thomas rushed for 1,615 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2010.  He is an advanced receiver, catching 27 passes out of the Kansas State backfield last season.

    Thomas could give the Giants versatility for trick plays.  In 2008, he threw for 450 yards and two touchdowns.

    There are a number of concerns about Thomas' ability to hold on to the football.  With Ahmad Bradshaw's struggles last season and the Giants' team struggles with turnovers, Tom Coughlin would have to think twice before drafting Thomas.

Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State)

5 of 10

    LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 20:  Running back Kendall Hunter #24 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys carries the ball during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on November 20, 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Kendall Hunter ran for 1,548 yards and 16 touchdowns last season for Oklahoma State.  Standing 5'7" at 199 pounds, Hunter does not have the size many of the other top-flight running backs.

    Despite his size, Hunter is a punishing back who hesitates to run out-of-bounds and lowers his shoulder at the end of runs.

    Hunter has some of the best quickness in the draft to make moves near the line of scrimmage, but appears to lack the breakaway speed that separates the good backs from the great ones.

Dion Lewis (Pittsburgh)

6 of 10

    CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04:  Dion Lewis #28 of the Pittsburgh Panthers runs for a touchdown during the Big East Conference game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Pittsburgh won 28-10.  (Photo by
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Dion Lewis is one of the smaller backs in the draft at 5'6" and 193 pounds.  Lewis does not project as an every down back, but appears to be more in the mold of Darren Sproles.  

    Lewis is a player who loves his underdog role.  He was only offered two scholarships at FBS schools and that slight motivates him to succeed.

    Lewis projects as a third or fourth-round pick, but it is unlikely the Giants would take him unless he fell to Round 5.

Jordan Todman (Connecticut)

7 of 10

    EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 27:  Jordan Todman #23 of the Connecticut Huskies carries the ball around the Cincinnati Bearcats defense on November 27, 2010 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Huskies defeated the Bearcats 38-17.  (Photo
    Elsa/Getty Images

    In 2010, Jordan Todman rushed for 1,695 yards and 14 touchdowns.  UConn's opponents knew Todman was going to get the ball, and Todman still ran them over.  

    The biggest concern NFL scouts have about Todman is his size (5'9" 203 pounds).

    Although Todman is not as highly projected as other running backs on this list (ESPN ranks him outside the top 10 running backs), he had an outstanding combine and could benefit from UConn's location.  Giants front office personnel were able to watch more UConn games than executives in other parts of the country.

    Don't be surprised to see the Giants reach for Todman in Round 3.

Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State)

8 of 10

    CORVALLIS, OR - DECEMBER 04:  Jacquizz Rodgers #1 of the Oregon State Beavers runs the ball against the Oregon Ducks during the 114th Civil War on December 4, 2010 at the Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Standing a mere 5'5" and weighing 196 pounds, Jacquizz Rodgers will need to overcome his size to succeed in the NFL.

    Rodgers has been one of the more dynamic college running backs throughout his career at Oregon State, rushing for 1,184 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2010.  

    Rodgers is explosive to the line of scrimmage and has good balance.  Aside from his size, he is one of the most talented running backs in the draft.  Expect the Giants to look at him around the third or fourth round.

DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma)

9 of 10

    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  DeMarco Murray #7 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs the football to score a touchdown in the first quarter against the Connecticut Huskies during the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2011 in G
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray is not the type of player who will get substantial carries his rookie season.  But he will make it on a team as a kick returner.  His unique blend of speed and quickness allows him to make plays in the open field.

    Murray would also be a great third down back for any team that chooses him.  He is a good route runner and seeks out holes under zone defenses.  Murray also has experience picking up blocks in the backfield, a skill many rookie running backs struggle with.

    Another Giants running back began his career as a kick returner picked in the late rounds of the NFL draft and became a serviceable feature back: Tiki Barber.

    Expect the Giants to look at Murray in the fourth and fifth rounds of the draft.

Johnny White (North Carolina)

10 of 10

    ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Johnny White #34 of the North Carolina Tar Heels against the LSU Tigers during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Johnny White did not have outstanding production in the 2010 season with only 720 yards and seven touchdowns.  He does have outstanding knowledge of the game.

    White has played cornerback, running back and wide receiver throughout his career, in addition to roles returning and covering kicks. 

    Playing so many positions shows White's exceptional athleticism.  He has some of the quickest feet and biggest burst among running backs in the draft.  That being said, he is still a project, a risk who would likely not contribute as a running back for a couple of seasons.  Like Murray, he could find a role on special teams in the meantime. 

    The Giants would likely look at White if he were still available around the sixth round.