ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 08: Sony Michel #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs stands on the field during the second quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Orleans Darkwa had a decent 2018, but he is not the long-term solution to the New York Giants run game. Wayne Gallman showed promise in his rookie year, but he seems to be more of a complement back than a starter. Jonathan Stewart, the soon-to-be 31-year old veteran recently acquired from the Panthers, seems to be far from the answer either. In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants need to find their running back of the future. Saquon Barkley is a future NFL star, but is he worth the investment for the Giants? If the Browns are committed to an instant turn-around, he’s a no-brainer with the first overall pick. If he falls to the New York Giants, on the other hand, a lack of stability on the offensive line seems to negate the advantages of drafting such a player. While this year’s running back class is as deep as ever, drafting Sony Michel in the second round is the answer to the Giants running troubles.

Numbers Don’t Lie

According to ESPN statistics, Barkley rushed 217 times for 1,271 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns in 2017. Michel, on the other hand, rushed 156 times for 1,227 yards (7.9 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns. Of course, Michel doesn’t possess the receiving prowess of Barkley, but the numbers speak for themselves. Michel was able to produce these kinds of numbers all while splitting carries with another early round draft prospect in Nick Chubb. This also means his body has not been abused as much as Barkley’s. While one could argue Michel hasn’t proved he can handle a complete workload, he won’t have to with Gallman and Stewart right behind him. The NFL draft is all about value. While Giants fans would certainly prefer Barkley straight up, Michel is a much better value in the beginning of the second round given the state of the team.

The Saquon Effect

One of the main reasons drafting Michel would be smarter than drafting Barkley is for the moves it allows the Giants to make. Obviously, the Giants still have to address the offensive line this offseason. If Barkley goes off the board first, the Giants would be able to demand a king’s ransom for the second overall pick. Acquiring additional draft picks could go a long way in revamping the line.

If the Browns decide to go with a quarterback, the second pick loses some of its trade value. However, sticking with the pick and drafting Quenton Nelson could also prove to be a healthy move. The addition of Nelson to complement newly acquired Nate Solder could give the team a better line than they have had in the past five years. If this happens, the Giants could reestablish their ground-and-pound style of football fans used to see with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. These were the years when Eli Manning was under far less pressure as the team was multidimensional. Pat Shurmur should help shore up the balance of the offense from the get-go. A strong supporting cast will definitely help the transition.

Home Run Hitter

In 2017, Darkwa and Gallman did a solid job running the ball in the second half of the season. However, their performances were far from anything that would take your breath away. It’s been a long time since the Giants had a home run hitter at the running back position. Michel could slide into the role the Giants envisioned for David Wilson before his injury. In 2017, Michel had touchdown runs of 74 and 75 yards. In 2008, the Giants took Wilson with the last pick in the first round. They could look to take Michel in a similar position with the second pick in the second round.

Last Word

The Giants need a franchise running back. Dave Gettleman has insisted that he has not devalued the position like many in the league have. A running back by committee approach with Michel at the helm and Gallman/Stewart as the complements could reinvigorate the Giants lackluster rushing attack. While improvements to the offensive line still have to come to fruition, drafting Michel gives the Giants the best chance to succeed.

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