The New York Giants might need to add a running back at some point in 2024, but they also might not be able to invest much in that player.
Enter Texas running back Jonathon Brooks. Brooks suffered a torn ACL in Texas’ November 11th win over TCU — a game in which he had already run for over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as picked up another 74 yards receiving. He had also emerged as one of the most well-rounded and explosive backs in college football despite being relatively slender for a running back in the current era of offense.
Evaluating injured prospects is always tricky. We never have the full story on their injuries and lack any kind of prescience to know what the future holds for them.
But when that player was all of three yards and 2 touchdowns shy of rushing for 100+ yards and a touchdown in eight straight games, you can probably trust your eyes.
Could he be a savvy investment for the Giants?
Prospect: Jonathon Brooks (24)
Games Watched: vs. Alabama (2023), vs. Baylor (2023), vs. Kansas (2023), vs. Kansas State (2023)
Red Flags: Torn ACL (November, 2023)
Weight: 200 pounds
- Contact balance
Texas’ Jonathon Brooks is a well-rounded and athletic running back prospect with the potential to be both a consistent contributor and a big play threat at the next level.
Brooks has experience running in a variety of schemes and formations in Texas’ offense and produced out of both man-gap and zone schemes. He has excellent vision in the backfield and is able to track and anticipate defenders at all three levels. Brooks also has an instinctive feel for the game as a runner and routinely uses his path to the line of scrimmage to manipulate defenders and set up his blocks. He varies tempo to give linemen time to establish their blocks while also subtly bending his path to influence defenders out of his intended hole.
Brooks is an excellent athlete, featuring quick feet, great agility, an explosive burst through the hole, and a gliding stride which gives him deceptive speed in the open field. That all combines to let him run as either a “one cut slasher” or an agile scat-back who can string together moves and out-athlete defenders. Brooks has excellent contact balance for a back with his build, and is able to keep his feet while running through contact or bouncing off shoulder checks. He uses his agility to force bad angles and has an instinctive feel for when to drop his hips, lower his center of gravity, and absorb contact.
He also proved to be a dangerous receiving option in 2023. Brooks is a natural catcher of the ball with soft hands, good ball skills, and a willingness to extend and pluck the ball out of the air away from his body. His route running still needs work, but he’s a reliable check-down option with the upside to generate big plays when he gets the ball in space. Brooks is also a willing and relatively reliable pass protector. He understands his role in blocking schemes, sees pressure well, blocks with a wide base, and is willing to take on much bigger defenders.
- Play strength
- Aggression when blocking
Brooks’ biggest red flag is on the medical front. He suffered a torn ACL in November of 2023 and won’t be able to participate in the draft process beyond interviews and medical check-ups. Teams will obviously want to do their due diligence with Brooks and assess his recovery timeline as well as his prognosis.
Some teams will have concerns regarding Brooks beyond the medical issues. He has a relatively slight build for an NFL running back, and more closely resembles a slot receiver at 6-foot, 200 pounds. A number of runners who are under 6-feet, but 215 pounds (or more) have come out in recent years and teams have used them as a counterbalance to the spread influences in passing games. Teams looking for a bigger “power” back will likely look elsewhere.
Brooks could also stand to improve his ball security through contact. While he only fumbled once in 2023, he has a tendency to carry the ball relatively loosely. That could lead to more fumbles at the NFL when defenders are bigger, faster, and coached to attack the ball when tackling.
He could also be more aggressive when taking on defenders as a pass protector. Brooks’ size doesn’t necessarily disqualify him from pass protection, but he’ll need to be better about stepping up and meeting defenders with initiative rather than letting them come to him.
(Brooks is RB number 24)
Jonathon Brooks’ projection is a bit muddied by his late-season injury.
His skill set suggests that he can be a trusted third down back immediately, and should be an active running back rotation. He’s most dangerous in a zone blocking scheme, but has the ability to run downhill in a man-gap scheme. Brooks should be productive for most NFL teams, but he has the potential to be a truly dangerous weapon in the right situation.
He might not be an “every down back”, but teams that incorporate backs into their passing attack and make use of personnel, alignment, and motion to create space could unleash his skillset to great effect.
All that said, much of his draft stock will hinge on his medical reports, when he’ll be able to practice and play, and how teams feel about his build.
Does he fit the Giants?
Potentially yes, though he might need to be paired with a power back.
Final Word: A solid Day 2 value (pending medicals)