First 'FanPost'... A few things of note, in regards to the prospect of drafting a Running Back in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft:
1) A list of the running backs drafted in the 2007 draft after the Giants passed over them at pick #20... (this, of course, was the year the Giants selected Ahmad Bradshaw as the last RB taken in the draft):
Kenny Irons, Chris Henry, Brandon Jackson, Lorenzo Booker, Tony Hunt, Garrett Wolf, Michael Bush, Antonio Pittman, Dwayne Wright, Kolby Smith, Thomas Clayton, Justise Hairston, DeShawn Wynn, Nate Ilaoa, Kenneth Darby.
2) Here are the running backs they passed over in the 2005 draft, when they selected Brandon Jacobs in the fourth round (keep in mind, this year they also picked up Ryan Grant as an UDFA):
J.J. Arrington, Eric Shelton, Frank Gore, Vernand Morency, Ryan Moats, Maurice Clarett (remember him?!?), and Marion Barber III.
3) A list of Running backs taken in the second half of the first rounds from 2001-2010 (to give you an idea about what quality of back are typically available/taken in this situation):
2001- Deuce McAllister (23) and Michael Bennett (27)
2002- William Green (16), T.J. Duckett (18)
2003- Willis McGahee (23), Larry Johnson (27)... (not a bad list considering the Giants drafted William Joseph)
2004- Steven Jackson (24), Chris Perry (26), Kevin Jones (30)
2006- Laurence Maroney (21), DeAngelo Williams(27), Joseph Addai (30) (followed by LenDale White and Maurice Jones Drew in the 2nd Round- DAMN!)
2008- Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall (23), Chris Johnson (24)... (can you believe Johnson was drafted 24th?! Thank God Jerry Jones had a man-crush on speedy Felix that year!)
2009- Donald Brown (27), Chris "Beanie" Wells (31)
2010- Javid Best (30)
5) The top 15 rushing teams in 2010 were: KC, Oak, Jac, NYJ, Phi, NYG, Hou, TB, NE, Minn, Pitt, Atl, Car, Balt, SD. All but three of these teams were in the top 15 in terms of offensive line run blocking, including 9 of the top 10 (this information is from footballoutsiders.com, which has an 'Adjusted Line Yards' formula that they use to calculate the performance of an offensive line).
side note: Mark Ingram, Mikel LeShoure, and Ryan Williams are among the 2011 prospects projected to go in the early parts of the draft.
Conclusion: Although I find this information very interesting, I'm not sure any definitive conclusions can be made about what the Giants should or shouldn't do at pick # 19. I have made a few conclusions of my own, which may be disputed as they are not born out of any statistical analysis, but out of my casual observations:
1) No one here, including myself, know which player is the right choice at #19. Furthermore, most GMs clearly don't know who is the right choice.
2) It is possible to find a successful running back in the later rounds of a draft (or even as a UDFA).
3) The success rate of drafting a running back falls significantly through the later parts of the first round, and into the second round, where it becomes seemingly indistinguishable.
4) The success of a running back is so intricately tied to the performance of an offensive line, that you might as well focus on shoring up that area of the offense (which is, in itself, an inexact science), before drafting (and sacraficing) the next Javid Best (Detroit rated the worst offensive line in Run Blocking).
5) A running backs 'life-span' in the NFL is shorter than most, if not all positions, thus reducing the value of the pick.
6) Tom Quinn should be fired.
My take: The Giants should take a RB only if they feel very confident that they have a sure thing. Considering the Giants' first round drafting habits since they failed miserably on Ron Dayne, I'm sure this will be the case. If they are even remotely concerned about the Offensive Line, that should be as much of a priority.
***UPDATE: 1/27/11*** Two selections are currently tied in the poll... As it stands 'Draft OL' and 'Fire Tom Quinn' are both tied at 32%. Share your thoughts, every vote counts!