Not since Tiki Barber’s abrupt retirement in 2006 have the New York Giants possessed a dominant running back. Big Blue hasn’t even produced a 900-yard rusher the last four seasons.
While Paul Perkins has yet to inspire comparisons to Barber, there’s hope the second-year back will cross the 1,000-yard mark as the top option in the running game.
The 2016 fifth-round pick, whose NFL ancestry includes father Bruce and former All-Pro uncle Don, had his moments as a rookie last season. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 112 attempts and caught 15 passes for 162 yards while playing behind departed former starter Rashad Jennings.
Of particular note were Perkins’ final three games of the regular season. Facing the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins while Big Blue unsuccessfully chased the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East crown, Perkins carried 47 times for 226 yards for an average of 4.8 per attempt. His first 100-yard game came against Washington with 102 yards on 21 carries.
The 5-11, 213-pound back out of UCLA has company in the backfield. Shane Vereen will factor heavily in the passing game, and Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman could siphon carries from Perkins if he struggles early. A porous offensive line won’t do any of the quartet any favors, either.
Still, the 22-year-old offers upside at the position not seen since Ahmad Bradshaw was climbing the depth chart between the Giants’ two Super Bowl titles in 2007 and 2011. Bradshaw, a former seventh-round pick, went on to rush for more than 1,000 yards on two occasions. Perhaps Perkins can follow in those footsteps.