Saquon Barkley was selected with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft by the New York Giants and has since been one of the best running backs in the league.
The 24-year-old rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons in the NFL. However, his 2020 season was cut short after he suffered an ACL tear in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears.
Barkley is expected to make a full recovery from his injury and be ready in time to suit up for Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season.
2021 NFL Draft: Three RBs that the New York Giants could target
Despite Barkley's return, it would be prudent for the Giants to have insurance at the running back position. Immediately feeding Barkley 20-25 carries a game every week after a major injury could spell trouble.
As a result, the Giants might consider drafting a running back after the first round to help take the pressure off of their starter next season. But which running backs should the Giants consider drafting later this month?
Let's take a look.
#1 - Javonte Williams, University of North Carolina
If the Giants are looking to bring in a player to help match the no-nonsense culture head coach Joe Judge is establishing in New York, Javonte Williams might be a great fit for the team.
According to NFL analyst Lance Zierlein, Williams is not afraid of initiating contact with defenders and is a tough guy to bring down. Trying to tackle him in the fourth quarter of games could be a chore for defenders.
Williams accumulated 1,140 yards rushing on a remarkable 7.3 yards per carry with the Tar Heels last season. He also caught 25 passes, including three touchdowns.
#2 - Travis Etienne, Clemson University
Aside from Najee Harris, there is no running back who played in more big games during his college football career than Clemson’s Travis Etienne.
The running back was extremely effective alongside quarterback Trevor Lawrence and helped make life a lot simpler for the Clemson offense. He won't be phased by the spotlight or the pressure of the NFL considering his background.
Etienne’s career numbers are absolutely incredible. He averaged 17.5 rushing touchdowns a season with Clemson. That doesn’t even include the talent he brings to the game as a receiver. He caught 48 passes through the air in his senior season with the Tigers.
Etienne is about a safe a pick in the middle rounds due to his pedigree and could be a valuable alternative to Barkley as he gets back up to speed.
#3 - Michael Carter, University of North Carolina
If the Giants aren’t going to consider bringing in Williams, they could look at another talented runner from the Tar Heels backfield.
Michael Carter also had a stellar career in North Carolina. He’s a little undersized at 5’8”, 199 pounds, but rushed for over 1,000 yards in his last two college seasons.
While he probably doesn’t have an upside as high as teammate Javonte Williams, Carter figures to be a solid pro. According to NFL.com, he makes quick sharp cuts and is most effective when running off tackles. He could provide an element of explosion for the Giants on the perimeter with limited touches.