The biggest acquisition in free agency for the Giants was running back Shane Vereen. A receiving threat out of the backfield, Vereen will be a fixture in passing situations for the Giants. He will form one of the prongs in a three pronged rushing attack that will also feature returning veteran Rashad Jennings and second year back Andre Williams. Rounding out the Giants current stable of running backs are Chris Ogbannaya, Orleans Darkwa, and Michael Cox.
Henry Hynoski was re-signed to play fullback, and is one of the best blocking fullbacks in the NFL, when healthy. Hynoski lacks the receiving skills to provide the threat in the flat desired from a true West Coast offense fullback. Nikita Whitlock, a first year player from Wake Forest is also on the roster to provide competition for Hynoski.
The Giants running game lacked the explosion desired by Tom Coughlin who prefers a powerful ground game as part of his offense. Most of the blame can be assigned to the middle of the offensive line, where rookie left guard Weston Richburg, former center J.D. Walton, and right guard John Jerry all had negative run block ratings on Pro Football Focus. Without a consistent blocking line in front of him primary runner Williams was unable to make holes on his own, and struggled more often than not. Jennings was more effective, but has been injury prone for most of his NFL career, and is not durable enough to be an every down back.
The Giants may seek to add another player to their backfield in next week’s draft, but it’s unlikely that a high draft pick will be used a position where they have multiple options. The team has also had success finding backs with third day picks in the past, most notably, Brandon Jacobs (4th round, 2005) and Ahmad Bradshaw (7th round, 2007). There are several back in this year’s draft who would fit the West Coast offense particularly well, lining up at the fullback position, with and providing a triple threat, running, catching, and blocking. As most NFL team no longer employ a fullback, the Giants will have minimal competition for these players.
On to the prospects…