The New York Giants are going forward with Paul Perkins as their starting running back.
Head coach Ben McAdoo said as much after the draft.
“Paul Perkins is going to be our starter out there on first and second down, and we’ve added some competition in the room in a variety of ways,” McAdoo said. “Shaun Draughn, Shane Vereen is coming back, we drafted Wayne Gallman, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the running back room shakes out.”
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There were reports of mutual interest between the Giants and LeGarrette Blount. Blount is coming off a season where he led the NFL with 18 touchdowns for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. However, the Giants only wanted Blount (who will turn 31 Dec. 5) if they could get him cheap. Blount signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
There was also mutual interest between the Giants and Adrian Peterson. Peterson, who is second in career rushing yards among active players with 11,747, only appeared in three games last season due to injury. The price for his services was also too high for the Giants. Peterson, who turned 32 Mar. 21, signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the New Orleans Saints.
Perkins makes better financial sense for the Giants. As a fifth-round pick, he is significantly less expensive in the immediate future than either Blount or Peterson. Youth is also beneficial when it comes to running backs. Perkins turns 23 on Nov. 16 with only 112 NFL carries as opposed to Blount’s 1,168 or Peterson’s 2,418.
Of course, the Giants will not have the benefit of the experience that Blount and Peterson would have brought. Peterson is a former NFL MVP and Blount played for a Super Bowl champion last season. Perkins does have an upside that makes up for his lack of experience.
He averaged 4.1 yards per carry last season. The Giants as a whole only averaged 3.5 yards a carry. Perkins produced the only 100-yard rushing day by an individual running back when he ran for 102 yards in the regular season finale against the Washington Redskins. His blocking is also improved as the season progressed. Perkins’ overall skill set was enough to insert him as the primary back on first and second downs after releasing Jennings.
The team does have a backup plan. Vereen is coming off a season where he tore his triceps twice but is still the back on passing downs. They still have Gallman, Draughn, and Orleans Darkwa as well.