Thursday, March 6, 2014
Big Blue Morning: Let's talk running backs
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
If you have an ESPN Insider subscription, you should check out Bill Polian's free-agent tracker, which has Bill's grades for all of the top guys on the market, sorts them by position, etc. If you don't have an ESPN Insider subscription, you should get one, if only so you can access Bill Polian's free-agent tracker.
With regard to the New York Giants, we discussed on Wednesday's "NFL Insiders" some potential targets for them at running back. I listed four -- Houston's Ben Tate, Indianapolis' Donald Brown, Oakland's Rashad Jennings and the Giants' own Andre Brown. But there are surely more possibilities, as the running back market is tough to predict. Most teams don't feel compelled to spend big resources on the position, and the Giants are no exception -- especially two years after drafting David Wilson in the first round and still not knowing for sure how that's going to pan out.
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What the Giants will be looking for is a back who can handle a starter's workload (in the event that Wilson and his surgically repaired neck cannot) and who can help in the passing game -- as a receiver and, even more importantly, as a blocker. So here's a look at a few guys who could catch their eye and what they might bring to the table, with a little help from Bill Polian's free-agent tracker:
Ben Tate: He's a physical, north/south runner who's likely to be the highest-paid back on the market (which could take him out of the mix for the Giants). Looks like a guy who could carry a starter's workload, but there are other guys who can help better in the passing game.
Donald Brown: He ranks No. 1 on Bill's list of running backs after outplaying Trent Richardson as the Colts' No. 1 back in 2013. He's also a willing pass-protector, which will appeal.
Rashad Jennings: Had a big game against the Giants in Week 10 and looks ready to assume a starter's role somewhere. Some seem to think, however, that he's a liability as a blocker. Possible he just wasn't asked to do it much in Oakland.
Andre Brown/Peyton Hillis: They finished the season as the Giants' backfield tandem and could be brought back in similar roles if things don't work out in the search for upgrades.
Maurice Jones-Drew: Question is how much he has left. The Jones-Drew of three years ago would be perfect for what the Giants do. But it's been a while since we've seen that guy.
Knowshon Moreno: Broncos unlikely to just let him leave. Part of the reason he got and kept the job there was his ability to pick up the blitz on passing downs for Peyton Manning.
LeGarrette Blount: Was this just a Bill Belichick miracle, unlikely to be repeated elsewhere? Or was it a talented guy fulfilling his potential at long last? Blount has appealing size.
There are more names, but you get the idea. The Giants are going hunting for running backs. We shall see what they turn up.