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Fantasy Players - Rookie Watch
By Mike Beacom

Rookie Watch – David Wilson, RB, New York Giants

By Mike Beacom

For much of last season, the New York Giants rode the arm of QB Eli Manning, who set career highs for completions (359), attempts (589) and yards (4,933). Victor Cruz was an instant star, and after a slow start Hakeem Nicks took off at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the running game logged its lowest number of carries (411) since the 2003 season, and ranked dead last in yards per attempt (3.5). Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs found the end zone plenty – as usual – but neither player was effective in moving the chains, and combined they had just four carries of 20-plus yards.

Searching for a new direction, the team used the last pick in round one on Virginia Tech’s David Wilson. Wilson’s athleticism made him an intriguing prospect among NFL scouts – he registered the best vertical and broad jump at the Combine, and was one of a few backs to break the 4.5-second mark in the 40-yard dash – but his size (5-foot-9, 206 pounds) caused some concern.

Dissecting the depth chart: The Giants washed their hands of Jacobs, leaving Bradshaw as the lead back in the Big Apple. Few think he’ll remain in that spot for long. Since entering the league in 2007, Bradshaw’s yards-per-carry total has declined each year, from 8.3 to 5.3 to 4.8 to 4.5 to 3.9. That’s more than troubling. And Bradshaw has never been free from Tom Coughlin’s wrath (who is?) suggesting one false step could have him back in the doghouse. The team’s 2009 fourth round pick, Andre Brown, has logged just two career carries; D.J. Ware carried 46 times last year, but for less per carry than both Jacobs and Bradshaw. Basically, the depth chart is wide open for Wilson to climb, and most believe he will exit camp with the backup job.

Just the stats: Wilson played three seasons at Virginia Tech, helping the Hokies to 11 wins last year by gaining 1,709 yards (5.9 yards per carry). He ripped up ACC foes in 2011, with 100 or more yards rushing in six straight conference contests. He did struggle against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game (11 carries for 32 yards) and wasn’t all that effective against Michigan in the Allstate Sugar Bowl (24 for 82). He did catch 22 passes, but never had more than 25 yards receiving in any one game.

2012 Projection: 120 carries, 625 rushing yards, 25 catches, 260 receiving yards, 5 TDs.

2011 rookie comparison: Roy Helu
The Redskins drafted a pair of running backs in 2011 (Evan Royster being the other) creating a deep backfield. It took Helu some time to separate himself from the pack (well, time and a Tim Hightower knee injury) but eventually he showed promise, posting three consecutive 100-yard games. Like Wilson, Helu is a quick, slashing-type runner who can contribute in the passing game (49 catches).

Interesting fact that won’t help you: Wilson is the only athlete in Virginia Tech history to earn All-America status in both football and track and field. He placed sixth in the triple jump at the 2011 NCAA Championships.

What he’s worth: It all depends on Bradshaw. Wilson has the tools to be a breakout rookie, but as long as Coughlin continues to employ a platoon backfield (or show Bradshaw favoritism) Wilson’s potential will be limited. At present he’s a good No. 4 (fringe No. 3) in most leagues due his big-play ability.

Mike Beacom is a contributing writer for
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