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Ranking the tight end, running back classes in the 2019 NFL Draft

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Could the Giants find themselves looking for a tight end or running back in the 2019 NFL Draft?

NCAA Football: Iowa at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The running back and tight end positions are interesting ones for the New York Giants.

As it stands now, the two positions are set for the team with Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman in the backfield, and Evan Gallman and Rhett Ellison at tight end. However, the team could decide to find another player to back up Barkley or move on from Ellison to free up money under the salary cap.

If either of those things happen, the Giants could find themselves selecting a player from one of these position groups.

Because of the uncertainty with regards to the Giants’ roster, I’m limiting myself to five of each.

Running backs

  1. Joshua Jacobs (Alabama)
  2. David Montgomery (Iowa State)
  3. Devin Singletary (FAU)
  4. Elijah Holyfield (Georgia)
  5. Damien Harris (Alabama)

Notes: Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is a physical, powerful runner from Alabama heading up the list. Harris is a good runner in his own right and generally got the most attention during the season, but the two were actually quite comparable in production. But with the season in the rear-view mirror, and a chance to go back over the tape, Jacobs has pulled ahead slightly. He shows good power in his compact frame to go with exceptional vision and balance. Harris is a solid prospect as well and should be a regular contributor at the next level as well.

Contact balance is what defines the second and third prospects on the list. If Montgomery were a bit faster in the open field (or times well at the Combine), he could vault Jacobs and be the top running back in this class. He is remarkably consistent in his running and is a handful for defenders to bring down. And this might be the highest anyone ranks Singletary, but this is my list and I like him. Between his low center of gravity, strong lower body, and absurd contact balance, Singletary was next to impossible for loan defenders to bring down in college. His vision, cuts, ability to set up his blocks, burst through the line of scrimmage and disregard all but the best tackle attempts made him a consistent producer. He had a lot of touches in college and might be best served in a two-back system, but he should be on teams’ radar.

And finally we have Elijah Holyfield, yet another talented running back from the University of Georgia. But while Holyfield isn’t as dynamic as Todd Gurley, Nick Chubb, or Sony Michel, he is a dependable back who brings a physical edge to an offense. He has good vision and quick feet to pick out running lanes, as well as the balance to get through the trash. But what sets Holyfield apart is that he has absolutely no qualms against using the “truck stick,”, and seemingly looks to finish every run with his footprints on a defender’s shell.

Tight ends

  1. T.J. Hockenson (Iowa)
  2. Noah Fant (Iowa)
  3. Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama)
  4. Isaac Nauta (Georgia)
  5. Dawson Knox (Ole Miss)

Notes: This is a very good tight end group, with players who could be assets in any offense run in the NFL. The two Iowa tight ends could be swapped depending on team needs and preferences, and should probably be listed as “1 and 1.” For the Giants, I listed Hockenson first, as Fant is very similar to Evan Engram, though his ceiling might not be quite as high. Hockenson is a complete tight end with the ability to line up in-line, detatched, or in the slot and threaten a defense deep or over the middle as a receiver. He doesn’t have Fant’s raw athleticism, but he has more than enough to pose a height - weight - speed mismatch for defense. On top of all that, he is an absolutely devastating blocker, who is as good at moving defenders as some offensive tackles — and better than a lot of them.

Irv Smith is a Swiss Army Knife for a sufficiently creative offense. A true “H-Back”, he is at home in the backfield or on the line of scrimmage and effective out of either alignment. Smith can block as a tight end or as a fullback, and catch passes from either position as well. He is an effective safety blanket while being athletic enough to be a weapon as well. Nauta is somewhat similar in build, and falls into the category of being “good enough” as a receiver. He might never be a weapon like other tight ends in this class (or in the NFL), but he is fast enough to threaten the seam and a good enough receiver to be a safety blanket. But that being said, he is very highly physical blocker who looks to impose his will on defenders.

Finally, Dawson Knox is an interesting prospect from Ole Miss. He played in a fairly simplistic and limited offense in college and is something of a blank set for the NFL. He has ability as a blocker and the athleticism to threaten defenses as a receiver. Knox has the potential to be a solid starting NFL tight end and contribute in a variety of offenses.