Perhaps the most interesting move the New York Giants made on draft day was not making one at all.
As trade rumors swirled around blogs and websites, Giants fans were on edge wondering if wide receivers Braylon Edwards or Anquan Boldin would be making their 09’ start at the Meadowlands in New Jersey; but that’s not the way the Giants do business.
Instead, the Giants kept their picks, their players, and perhaps even their pride, when they refused to go the extra mile to acquire a receiver with questionable hands.
As the announcement engulfed Radio City Music Hall, fans either stood up and cheered, or hung their heads in disappointment as Hakeem Nicks was introduced as the newest member of the New York Giants.
New York took their search for a Plaxico replacement one step further by enlisting the services of 6’6” Ramses Barden out of Cal Poly.
But while most Giants fans and draft analysts focused on closing the gaping hole left by sharp shooting Plaxico Burress, the other dilemma the Giants were faced with was trying to find a replacement for recently departed running back Derrick Ward. Since Tom Coughlin took over the team in 2004, the Giants stamp has always been to pound the ball first, throw it if necessary later; so why wasn’t finding a replacement for the man nicknamed “Wind” more of a concern?
Since Brandon Jacobs took over the starting job in 2007, he has missed eight games within the past two seasons, and has had his most success when the burden doesn’t fall squarely on him. Although he may be as big as your favorite linebacker, Jacobs is still susceptible to the wear and tear every running back goes through.
Last season the man known as “Earth” benefited from his teammates contrast of running styles. As defenses wore down from chasing Ward and Bradshaw, Jacobs was able to barrel over whatever was left from the onslaught of the three headed monster known as Earth, Wind, and Fire.
The recently dethroned super bowl champions have had much success with the multiple running back system going back to “Thunder” and “Lighting”, or more commonly known as Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber, and have continued to utilize this system to its fullest. So the question remains how do the Giants replace a man who ran for over 1,000 yards as a backup?
Ahmad Bradshaw who is entering his third season in the NFL is the most obvious choice. In only 67 attempts “Fire” ran for 355 yards including a breakout game against the Baltimore Ravens in which he fan for nearly 100 yards. Perhaps Bradshaw can step up and help share the load in the backfield or maybe someone new can step in and fill that role.
For those who were paying attention for the entire draft, you may have noticed the Giants selected running back Andre Brown out of NC State in the fourth round.
Brown is a versatile back with great power and game speed. His ability to come out of the backfield and catch passes is a huge bonus for Eli Manning who will need all the help he can get this upcoming season with no true number one wide receiver.
At this years senior bowl Brown rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown, he also caught two passes for 41 yards. His size and skill make him an interesting and intriguing combination at the pro level.
Perhaps the man who will be left out in the cold will be third year player Danny Ware. For those who are not familiar with him, don’t be ashamed, in the 2008 regular season he had only two rushing attempts for 15 yards, but I want to stress the words regular season in the sentence. During the 2008 preseason, Ware was the Giants leading rusher with 181 yards in four games.
Even in a place like New York, four backs would make the office behind Eli Manning too crowded and absurd. The New York Giants must find the right pieces to fit behind Brandon Jacobs, as they did last season. There’s no question the Giants have the talent, but will they utilize it to the maximum, or will talent suffer because of misuse of their ability?
While all three of the possibilities could turn out to be complete failures, the Giants could always do what they almost never do and trade for a running back to play behind Jacobs. Players such as Jerious Norwood, Chester Taylor, and LenDale White, are all expected to become free agents in 2010 as their contracts are coming due.
The running game is a key component to most successful offenses, but is vital to the Giants, and even more important to the progression of Eli Manning.
Eli needs a supporting cast, he will not take over the game, and that support comes from the men who line up six yards behind the line of scrimmage.