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NFL Draft: Giants needs and fits — running back

The Giants have yet to address the running back position. What prospects might fit on each day of the draft?

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants’ need at running back is fairly well known. Even before they parted ways with Rashad Jennings it was expected that they would try to add talent to the position.

Since releasing Jennings, and not adding one in free agency, it has only seemed more likely that the Giants will try to add a running back at some point in the draft. With Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen already on the roster, it seems likely that the Giants will need to add a back that brings a more physical element to their offense.

Fortunately for the Giants, the 2017 NFL Draft is very deep at the running back position, and there will be talented prospects available on all three days.

Need - Running Back

Day 1 - Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)

It is looking increasingly likely that McCaffrey won’t be available when the Giants make their selection at 23rd overall. Versatility, high character, consistently good production, and a strong performance throughout the draft process have boosted his stock. However, the draft can be volatile, and if he happens to slip, the McCaffrey is the kind of first round player that Jerry Reese likes to target. He can contribute right away and in a variety of ways, gives the team a big-time threat as a runner, a receiver, and a returner.

The common belief is that the Giants are looking for a powerful player to balance Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen, but if they have a shot at McCaffrey, they’ll overlook his size. He’s tougher and more powerful than he gets credit for, but ultimately his is his unique movement skills, vision, and versatility that will get him drafted — and make him feared.

Day 2 - D’Onta Foreman (Texas)

It is uncommon to find a running back as big and athletic as D’Onta Foreman. His running style isn’t what you would expect from a 6-foot, 230-pound running back. Running almost exclusively from the shotgun formation, Foreman’s feet and athleticism allow him to create behind the line of scrimmage like a much smaller back. Quick feet and surprising lateral agility let him hit cutback lanes at which other big backs wouldn’t have a shot.

It takes him a bit to hit his top gear, but he showed off some impressive speed with a 4.45 second 40-yard dash. With his weight, power, and balance, he is a tough back to bring down.

Foreman was a 2-down back in college, and doesn’t have much experience as a pass catcher or blocker, though his twin brother being a wide receiver could be a mark in his favor when teams consider whether or not he can be useful as a pass catcher. Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen are assets in the passing game, and would give Foreman good mentors to learn from, and the time to grow into a 3-down back.

Day 3 - James Conner (Pittsburgh)

There is no better or more inspiring story in the draft than James Conner. Overcoming a torn MCL and cancer to return to the field in less than a year speaks to his heart and work ethic, and he has been one of the main emotional leaders and captains of the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Conner is a big, physical, bull of a running back, who looks to finish runs and make sure defenses feel him. He isn’t especially fast or agile, but if the Giants are looking for a power back to brutalize potential tacklers, Conner might be the best option not named Leonard Fournette. Once he hits his stride and explodes through the line of scrimmage, arm tackles are a waste of time, and it usually takes multiple defenders to bring him down. There is no finesse to his game, but if the Giants are looking for a contrast and complement to Paul Perkins, that isn’t a problem. Conner is a man I would want on my team.