We have arrived at the last installment for Wonder's draft analysis: Running Back.
(Wonder does not analyze the Punters and Kickers.) After this, we will compile all of the positions and generate his overall list. Pete's Analysis is coming too.
Back to Wonder's RBs, the thing that you notice immediately is that there is a lot of depth here. It shows up in the middle of the draft, R3-R5. These guys are either the 5'10" 220-230 lb types or the scatbacks. There is a lot of value in both.
When you consider that the Giants have been very skillful in their selections of RBs over the years, it begs the observation: don't pick these guys early. Think about this: the Giants grabbed Derrick Ward from the Jets practice squad, where he was a R7 pick for them. They took Jacobs in R4. They found Bradshaw in R7. They got Danny Ware (UFA) off the Jets practice squad. They signed Ryan Grant as a UFA and traded him to the Packers for a R6 pick because they HAD TOO MANY RUNNING BACKS!
So think about it- the Giants are terrific at finding RBs late, they s*ck at finding LBers late. So why pick up Mark Ingram in R1? I know Pete loves Mikel Leshoure (and Wonder likes him a lot too), but if your organization's talent is in finding RBs later, find them later and use your early resources on other needs that cannot be easily met (historically or otherwise) later. The crop of LBers this year s*cks. The crop of RBs is deep. Don't make this complicated.
Look at a guy like Mario Fannin. I have no idea if a guy like that can fall to R4. Maybe someone else the Giants also like does. We are critical of the Giants when we identify areas of improvement for the team. (Some misinterpret that criticism. It is simply built on a belief that there is always room for improvement and learning.) Here at RB, the Giants have simply been fantastic. So go to your strength. If you like ~5 RBs in the middle rounds, take one of them in R4. Mark Ingram can go to the Hall of Fame for all I know. But in terms of allocating resources, unless God is whispering in your ears about him, you go to your strength and leave RB for later.
Summary of the facts:
(1) RB and LB are both needs for the Giants.
(2) The 2011 draft is lean on LBers.
(3) The 2011 draft is deep on RBs.
(4) The Giants have not been drafting LBer well for quite some time, especially in the middle to later rounds, where they have drafted often.
(5) The Giants have been able to draft/pick up RBs fantastically well in later rounds, consistently delivering starters who have made an impact.
(6) The Giants have not drafted a LBer #1 in 27 years.
I am going out of my way to make this point about Ingram because I recognize that he is a good player that may have the Giants' interest. Ralph Vacchiano selected him in one of 2 mocks we linked to, so that tells me the Giants have an interest in the position (high?) and probably like the name as well. It is simply not necessary to go there.
Compare it by the numbers vs Wonder's Draft stock at RB last year (2010). In 2010, he had projected 9 starters and 6 backups. This year he has 16 projected starters and 8 backups. That is TREMENDOUS DEPTH.
All else equal, RBs are also not R1 material in today's NFL. Between the pass-happy offenses and platoon RBs of this league, RBs are simply less desirable.
One more point about the NFL in 2011. The Packers won a title with Ryan Grant hurt and a rookie named James Starks as its RB. Look at this line on Starks from Wonder last year: 161 Ranking, 5 (Backup) Rating, "Interesting, a little stiff, but R5 and I like the way he runs. I think he will be motivated to play hard and to run hard." The Packers took him with the 193rd pick in Round 6. ROUND SIX! That, my friends, is value. Starks did not light the world afire. But he, as a rookie late round pick, helped the team. That is how to allocate resources and win titles.