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2013 NFL Draft- Running Backs that would Fit the New York Jets

By Mike Nash
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Will Kenjon Barner be apart of the Jets offense next season?

The 2013 New York Jets are going to look very different on the offensive side of the ball to say the least. There is a chance they will be with a new quarterback, two new offensive linemen, and maybe a new running back. As I am sure most fans know, Rex Ryan has preached the “Ground and Pound” approach, which is where the offense is mostly run on the ground. While this was very successful the first two seasons under Ryan, this past season was a struggle. A good portion of the blame can be placed on the talent at the RB position, but maybe it was just that the group was not built to run the Ground and Pound. But that is all in the past, insert Marty Mornhinweg. Mornhinweg is as far from a “Ground and Pound” play caller as there is. His play calling represents the idea of running a “West Coast Offense”, which relies less on the RB, but instead majority of the plays come through the air. So let’s take a look at the backs in this year’s draft that would be a good fit in the Jets new offense.

1. Giovanni Bernard- With Shonn Greene being a free agent, the Jets are in need of a number one running back. The feeling in the organization is that Greene will not be brought back. This leaves the Jets with just two running backs on the roster, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight. Powell showed great potential last season, but there are questions if he can handle being the every down back. Joe McKnight was a big recruit coming out of high school and was a big time player at USC. Unfortunately, he has not had much of an impact in the running game. Although he is a very solid special teams player, it is doubtful he will ever be able to contribute at the running back position. Insert Giovanni Bernard into that group, and the Jets running game issues may be a thing in the past. Bernard, a back from the University of North Carolina is an all-around solid running back. As just a freshman he ran for over 1200 yards and added 13 touchdowns. What Bernard brings to the table would instantly upgrade any team’s offense. Not only can Bernard handle the ball on the ground, he is also capable of being a very solid receiving option coming out of the backfield. Bernard’s best quality as a back may be his versatility, but his speed is also very valuable. Every time the ball is in his hands, he has the ability to break a long run. With the Jets moving away from the Ground and Pound, a versatile back like Bernard is exactly what the Jets need. Although Bernard has battled some injuries in college, I believe he would be a very good pick for the New York Jets in the second round.

2. Kenjon Barner- Kenjon Barner can fly. Just like the other running backs out of Oregon in the past, Barner is considered one of the fastest players in the entire NFL draft this year. Although only being 5’11 195 pounds, Barner runs incredibly hard and fights for extra yardage every chance he gets. Similar to former Oregon Ducks teammate LaMichael James, Barner seems to have the ability to do a little bit of everything. His speed makes him very hard to tackle once he gets into the open field. With the West Coast Offense making its way into Gang Green’s playbook, Barner’s ability to catch out of the backfield can be a disaster for defense to have to defend. While Barner may never be an every down back in the NFL, his talent can definitely be used in NY. He is projected to be drafted in around the 3rd-4th round.

Could Mike Gillislee be the number one back for the Jets next year?

3. Mike Gillislee- If there is one player in this year’s draft who I would say has been not talked about enough, Gillislee is Number 1 on that list. Although former Alabama running back Eddie Lacy is a very good running back, and is being projected to be the first running back off the board, I believe that Gillislee is the most complete back in the draft. His speed, quickness, field vision and pass catching are not going to blow anyone away, but he is very solid in all of those areas. At 6’1 207 pounds, he may be considered a tad bit undersized, but you would not think that by watching him run. Arguably the most impressive part of Gillislee’s skill set is his field vision. He is very good at reading his blocks and waiting for the play to develop. With Nick Mangold, D’ Brickashaw Ferguson and Austin Howard being solid in run blocking, Gillislee would be very effective running behind these guys. He would give the Jets a very solid 1-2 punch with Bilal Powell and himself. As you can tell, I am very high on Gillislee. Given the opportunity in the 2nd or 3rd round, I think it would be wise for the Jets to take a good hard look at the former Florida Gator.

4. Onterio Mccalebb- While Bernard, Barner, and Gillislee are all pretty well known prospects; Mccalebb is one back who is barely being talked about. What Mccalebb would bring to any team is a little bit of everything you would want in a running back. This past college football season at Auburn, he had 570 yards on 94 carries with 6 TD’s, to go along with with 200 yards receiving. He also returned a kick for a touchdown. This just shows how versatile Mccalebb is. His best asset is his speed. He is clocked at running a 40 yard dash in 4.28 seconds, which is incredibly fast. While Mccalebb is not quite the back the other three mentioned are, if used properly I think he ill succeed in the NFL. His speed could be a perfect fit for Mornhinweg’s type of offense. He projects to go in the 6th-7th round. He could be a very good late round pick up for the Jets.

As we all know, this draft is a very important one for Gang Green, not only for the 2013 season but for the future of the franchise. The Jets cannot afford to miss on any of their picks this year. Selecting the right running back will be very important in determining the teams overall success. In my opinion, the 4 backs that I mentioned would be a good fit in the Green and White.

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