The New York Giants desperately need to rebuild their offense. Part of that is rediscovering their long-dormant running game, which not only depends on rebuilding their offensive line, but might also require an investment in the running back position.
Jonathan Stewart can’t be considered as anything more than a veteran presence and mentor to young backs Wayne Gallman and Paul Perkins. And while they have each shown flashes of promise, neither is particularly proven at the NFL level. Neither would be a rookie, but in a rich running back class, the Giants could look to add more talent and competition to the running back room.
The Georgia Bulldogs boast a talented duo of running backs in Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, riding the pair to the National Championship game. Though Chubb has been the more heralded prospect, Michel might actually be the better fit for the Giants under Pat Shurmur.
What does Georgia’s “other” running back bring to the table?
- Compact, powerful build, which he uses to his advantage.
- Great acceleration. Able to change direction or reach top speed quickly.
- Good patience behind the line of scrimmage to set up blocks.
- Great vision to pick up seams and cutback lanes.
- Willing and capable blocker for his teammates.
- Capable pass catcher
- Limited long speed. Doesn’t have the extra gear to give him elite speed.
- Used as a complementary back to Nick Chubb.
What They’re Saying
IN OUR VIEW: Teams looking for an immediate spark will be intrigued by Michel, whose production against elite competition speaks for itself. Kamara is at his best in space and boasts the soft hands to be a formidable weapon on all three downs, projecting as an immediate impact rookie who would be best served going to a team which will complement him with a bruiser for short yardage duties.
-Rob Rang (NFLDraftScout.com)
Does He Fit The Giants?
Michel is one of the most well-rounded running backs in the draft. He has a number of positive traits and things he does well and very few true warts to his game.
Michel is able to run between the tackles in man-gap plays or inside zone, as well as off-tackle and outside-zone plays. He is adept at setting up his blocks, finding cutback lanes, and waiting for defenders to commit before making his move.
If there is a negative to his game, it might be his speed in the open field. He gets up speed very quickly, and has enough to stave off college defenders, but that might not be enough to be a home run threat against NFL defenses. Ultimately, his long speed isn’t a huge concern, considering how many productive running backs there are with 4.5 speed in the NFL.
It is also worth noting that in the games I watched, Michel did get the majority of his big runs on option plays, which created massive holes and space for him to exploit. That is a luxury he likely wouldn’t have lining up behind or beside Eli Manning.
If the Giants’ running game and running back usage resembles that of the Minnesota Vikings under Pat Shurmur, then Michel should be a natural fit in their backfield. He does just about everything well, including catch the ball -- which Shurmur stated is a “must” -- and is a good fit in a zone blocking scheme. He could provide a solid value on the second day of the draft.
Whether or not he is at the top of the Giants’ board in the second round (where he is likely to be selected) is another matter.