by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The New York Giants running game was one of the biggest questions in the offseason, as was the offensive line. Yet the team failed to really address either area, instead opting to rely on Paul Perkins to take a step forward in his sophomore season. Considering the depth chart it is likely that various players entrench themselves into different roles, and that is going to factor into the overall value. We saw that in the first half of the team’s “dress rehearsal”:
- Paul Perkins – Early Down Back
- Orleans Darkwa – Short Yardage/Goal Line Back
- Shane Vereen – Passing Down Back
- Wayne Gallman – Depth Option
- Shane Draughn – Non-Factor
Perkins clearly has the highest upside of the group, and he finally started showing it as he took 6 carries for 33 yards. That said he watched Darkwa pick up a 1-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, instead of getting the opportunity himself.
While Vereen was a non-factor in this game, given his injury history (he played in just 5 games in 2016) it makes sense for New York to try and protect him and keep him healthy. They know what they have, and while he could steal a few carries of his own the potential is there to be a PPR force (he had 81 targets in his first season in New York).
So when it comes down to it, how exactly do we value a “lead” back who appears primed to come off the field in passing situations as well as short yardage plays? Those were the exact questions facing him prior to the draft, as NFL.com noted:
“If Perkins had more size and play strength to go with his elusiveness, we would be talking about whether he or Ezekiel Elliott would be the first running back off the board. While Perkins’ tape is full of ankle-breaking cuts, his draft value will also be determined by his ability to protect the quarterback and stay on the field in short-yardage spots. If Perkins finds the right scheme and team fits for his talents, he could become a high-end committee back early on.”
A year later nothing has changed. While he could pop off a few big games, early on we need to expect his production to be game flow dependent. That means he’s impossible to trust as a RB2, and is far better served to be selected as a depth option in hopes of him emerging as a trustworthy option.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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