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New York Giants position breakdowns: Fullback

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As we continue our position-by-position breakdown for the New York Giants, today's post will be a short one. Maybe not sweet, but short.

Today we look at fullback. Which means we look at just one player -- Madison Hedgecock.

I know some of you guys go crazy every time Eli Manning throws the ball in Hedgecock's direction. And I know it's pretty much 50-50 whether or not the big fullback will catch the ball when it comes his way. But, this discussion is not about Hedgecock's hands. Be realistic, the Giants don't design plays to give him the ball. The only time it goes in that direction is when Eli has nowhere else to throw it, or he is absolutely uncovered. So, while his drops are annoying pass-catching is really an inconsequential part of Hedgcock's job.

What he is really on the field for is to clear a path for Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw as a blocker. So, what we really need to discuss is how good Hedgecock is at that very singular, very narrowly-defined job.

Really, it is difficult to judge the five-year veteran off his 2009 season. He was, quite obviously, not the path-clearing force the Giants had come to expect. That, of course, had to be part of the reason for Brandon Jacobs' struggles. We know now, though, that Hedgecock was hiding a torn labrum that limited his strength and effectiveness in being able to move linemen and linebackers.

Purely as a blocker, Pro Football Focus graded Hedgecock a +2.1 this past season, 10th in the league. That isn't terrible, but it is a far cry from 2007 when Hedgecock made his reputation by posting a +10.6 as a blocker, second in the league among fullbacks. In 2008, Hedgecock was a mediocre -0.2 as blocker despite the fact that the Giants had two 1,000-yard rushers.

To get the Giants running game back in gear in 2010, the Giants need Hedgecock to return to at least a semblance of his 2007 form.

To do that he will, of course, need to be healthier than he was in 2009. Perhaps, also, a little competition will be good for him.

The best season of his career was 2007, when he was released by St. Louis after one game and claimed by the Giants. You have to suspect that Hedgecock spent much of 2007 highly motivated to prove the Rams wrong.

The past two seasons, however, Hedgecock has been completely unchallenged for his role with the Giants. The 2010 season might be different. The Giants have already signed 6-foot, 258-pound fullback Jerome Johnson to provide a little competition.

It boils down to this. To run the ball you have to be able to create holes. Helping to do that is Hedgeock's only real job. In 2010 he needs to prove that he can still do it.

Draft/Free Agency Priority: 5