Learning to accept that David Wilson may already be a bust


There has been plenty of optimism coming out of Giants camp in regards to 2012 first-round pick David Wilson and his recovery from neck fusion surgery after being diagnosed with a condition known as spinal stenosis. Wilson and the Giants brass are confident about his return in 2014. The reality is a bit more grim.

No one knows what lasting effects remain after being diagnosed with spinal stenosis and it appears doctors are even more wary to give the go-ahead for a player whose undergone neck surgery to return to the gridiron to partake in a sport known for the damage it inflicts on an athlete’s head, neck and spine.

That is the exact reason former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley has been unable to ink a free-agent deal after missing the final 10 games of the 2013 season with a bruised spinal chord. Though he might insist he is healthy, he has yet to be cleared to resume football activities.

The same fate may await Wilson, who could be in greater danger of aggravating his injury because he plays running back. The toll taken by running backs has been well documented and is much to blame for the shorter terms they now serve as a pro football player. A lengthy injury history for a running back is essentially a death sentence in the NFL.

For folks who may have had high hopes for Wilson as a Giant, this may be a difficult pill to swallow. However, the reality may be that he simply wasn’t going to be the superstar many had imagined he would be anyhow.

He showed flashes of brilliance towards the end of his rookie season in 2012, but nothing was ever able to come of it last season. His numbers are underwhelming and the film shows an athlete who is hit or miss. Boom or bust. Like Adam Dunn, it’s either a home run or a strikeout. That may cut it on the baseball diamond, but on the gridiron, it’ll just get you cut.

For his career, Wilson has averaged 4.4 yards per carry. However, 33 of his 115 carries went for no gain or—even worse—a loss. 17 have gone for 10 or more yards. That kind of inconsistency is the result of a wild running style, as noted by RotoWorld’s Evan Silva, with far too much improvisation involved.

Silva is right. He’s prone to negative runs. He’s so focused on connecting with the fastball down the middle that he forgets to drive the breaking pitch straight up the middle—he’s an east-and-west runner when he should be going north and south.

Granted, Wilson has yet to have the opportunity to carry the football without interruption. Head coach Tom Coughlin’s need to punish him after one fumble in two consecutive seasons has stunted his growth. Now, thanks to the concerns about his spine, he may never have the opportunity to prove whether or not he could have been an elite NFL back.

As a result, the 32nd overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft may already be a bust at the age of 22. With so many negatives early in his career, it’s possible he may have proven to be a flop all on his own. Still, the potential he showed, especially as an electric, highlight reel type of player gave reason for intrigue in one of the 2012 class’ more underrated backs coming out of Virginia Tech.

You hope Wilson will be able to return to the field and fulfill the expectations placed on him by the Giants when they took him at the tail end of the first round. But first he’ll have to overcome the greatest obstacle in his career and right now, the odds do not appear to be in his favor.

All quotes were acquired firsthand or via team press releases unless otherwise noted. Like what you see? Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date on all things New York Giants!

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  • jimbo

    sounds a lot like a Hall of Fame we all know, Barry Sanders. If memory serves, He used to have a lot of minimal to negative plays, them bust one for 50 yards. Theres a guy in Minnesota that’s similar but no body talks negatively about them

  • Lou Musto

    If Wilson can turn out like either, it’d be a beautiful thing. He’s young, so of course there are going to be negatives. Hopefully he can get back on the field and negate all the negative talk and live up to the hype. So much potential there.

  • shawn

    Not everyone is Ahmad bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs or even frank gore. We want these guys to go north and south, inside the tackles, punish tacklers, create holes for themselves etc. Wasn’t it clear from the beginning that Wilson was not they “style” of running back? He’s fast, elusive, and finesse. He needs to be used in a way that capitalizes on his strengths. I watched every game last year. The Giants were mostly awful and if we want to criticize players, there’s plenty of criticism to go around. Wilson should still be given more opportunity and still be coached. A new system that more resembles what they did in green bay might help.