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Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Looking at Giants running backs

By Dan Graziano

Ohm Youngmisuk has his mind today on running back, a position at which the New York Giants could potentially see some changes in the coming season. Brandon Jacobs likely will need to restructure his contract to stay. If he leaves, the Giants likely will have to find a replacement to pair with Ahmad Bradshaw and his busted foot. That replacement could come from the current stable of backups, which comprises Da'rel Scott, D.J. Ware and Andre Brown. It could come from the bargain bin in the free agent market or in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft.

What would surprise me, though, is if they used that No. 32 overall pick -- or really any pick in the first three rounds -- to address running back.

There are few teams for which past behavior is a better indicator of future behavior than the Giants. And they generally do not draft running backs high. They used to, sure. They took Tyrone Wheatley in the first round in 1995, Tiki Barber in the second round in 1997, Joe Montgomery in the second in 1999 and Ron Dayne in the first in 2000. For a while there, the Giants were all about drafting running backs early.

But they appear to have learned some sort of lesson. Since the Dayne pick, the Giants have not drafted a running back before the fourth round. Jacobs and Brown are fourth-rounders. Bradshaw and Scott are seventh-rounders. Ware wasn't drafted at all. They signed him off the Jets' practice squad. Pretty sure his name was Danny Ware at the time.

Anyway, the point is, the Giants in the draft are all about value. And the prevailing wisdom in the NFL these days is that there's just not a lot of value in drafting running backs early. The Giants finished this past regular-season 32nd in the league in rushing offense and still won the Super Bowl. And while they'd like to run the ball better, they believe the run game is about symbiotic pieces all working together, rather than about handing the ball to one star back and wearing him down the way so many other teams do.

I've said many times that the issue with the Giants' running game this season was an offensive line issue and not a running backs issue. Whatever the line looks like next season, as Youngmisuk points out, it's got to block better for the backs. As for who those backs will be, it remains to be seen. But don't expect the Giants to bring in any new back that gets you all excited. That's not how they roll.