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Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Draft preview: Running back

By Ohm Youngmisuk

This is the second installment in a nine-part series that will analyze the Giants' needs, position by position, in the upcoming draft.

Position: Running back.

Depth chart: Ahmad Bradshaw, D.J. Ware, Da’Rel Scott, Andre Brown, Henry Hynoski.

Not under contract: None.

Scouting report: The running game is coming off a season in which it finished last in the league in the regular season with 1,427 yards. And there’s uncertainty surrounding the Giants running game now with the departure of Brandon Jacobs and Brown’s four-game suspension. Bradshaw is currently recovering from an injection into his ankle to help a fracture heal. He says he is ready to carry a bigger load with Jacobs gone but he also is running on surgically repaired feet and ankles. Ware has seen sporadic time as the third-down back and has been used on draws and screens out of the backfield. Scott has flashed his serious speed in preseason action but has to earn the trust of the coaching staff and show he is ready for some meaningful carries. Unlike last year due to the lockout, Scott will have an entire offseason to work with the coaching staff and veterans this year. Hopefully, Scott will get ample opportunities in camp and the preseason to show what he is capable of. The Giants like Brown but the former fourth-round pick will have to sit out the first four games after violating league policy on performance enhancing substances.

The Giants could use another running back in the case Ware and Scott are not ready to assume a bigger role. At the very least, they can use another back for depth and to groom for the future. Also, the team has to be wary of Bradshaw’s feet acting up again. Tom Coughlin said in February that he likes the formula he had with Bradshaw and Jacobs so ideally the Giants could use a power back but there aren't any 6-4, 265-pound backs readily available. Hynoski should only get better at fullback with more experience and flashed some ability to catch out of the backfield as well late in the season.

The Last Time: The Giants last drafted a running back in 2011 when they selected Scott in the seventh round.

Potential targets: The Giants haven’t spent more than a fourth-round pick on a running back since 2000 when they took Ron Dayne in the first round. Since then, the Giants have taken Jacobs and Brown with fourth-round picks and found Bradshaw and Scott in the seventh round. Jerry Reese might not use his first-round pick on a running back but ESPN NFL draft analyst Todd McShay believes there are quality running backs that will go in the second round (click on the names to see Scouts Inc.'s breakdown of each running back). Boise State’s Doug Martin, Miami's Lamar Miller, Virginia Tech’s David Wilson and Oregon’s Lamichael James all could be drafted in the second round although they could also all be gone by the time the Giants pick last in that round.

After that group, ESPN’s Scouts Inc. ranks Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead, Washington’s Chris Polk, Temple’s Bernard Pierce and Michigan State’s Edwin Baker in the top 120 overall prospects. The Giants typically go best player available but this is one of their biggest areas of need in the draft.

According to ProFootballTalk.com, the Giants have brought in Texas A&M's Cyrus Gray and Utah State's Michael Smith.

Need Rating (On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being of highest importance): 8.

Next: WR.