Paul Perkins was a 5th round pick, but the Giants seem confident that he can lead their backfield. Ben McAdoo has named him the starter earlier this offseason, and clearly stated that he was the first and second down starter. This was pretty obvious, but we needed to wait until the draft to see if they made any moves. On Wednesday, news came out that Giants’ runnings backs coach Craig Johnson believes Perkins can be a three-down back because of his continued improvements in pass-blocking. Will he be? That’s a separate question. Let’s dive in.
The Giants already have Shane Vereen on the roster, who caught 61 passes last year. He’s a pass-catching specialist, that’s just what he does. If he’s healthy, I believe he will play most third downs. But if he goes down with an injury, we know that Perkins can play all three downs and has the confidence in the coaching staff to do so. He did play all three downs last year when Vereen was out, but in a timeshare with Jennings. Another pass-catching specialist is Shaun Draugh, who is very capable of being a third down back.
The Giants also drafted Wayne Gallman at the end of the 4th round. He’s a guy who will get the tough yards and in my opinion, a great complement to Perkins. He’s not ready for pass protection, but he is someone who can run through a hole and pile up extra yards. I can see him being a short yardage guy, which also means a possible goal line back.
That’s 1… 2… 3…4 running backs we have in this backfield that could see the field. With McAdoo coming out after the draft saying that Perkins is the early down starter, there’s some confidence believing that will be the case. I would still keep an eye out on the preseason to see if any other Giants running back gets rotated in with the starters on early downs and if Gallman looks impressive during training camp. Perkins is going in the early 7th round at this point, and is not a bad value for the running backs going around him. The other running backs are Derrick Henry, Rob Kelley, Bilal Powell, Mike Gilislee, Dalvin Cook, Frank Gore, and Jeremy Hill. I would probably take Powell, Gilislee and maybe Gore ahead of him, but if you believe that he will be be on the field for early downs on an improved Giants offense, he’ll be worth that pick and can return that value and more. Remember, Rashad Jennings had 181 carries last year, but we didn’t care because he was averaging 3.3 yards per carry. I think it’s a good bet that Perkins gets that opportunity and more without as much of a timeshare.