Moeller: Do you remember Rocky Thompson?

He was the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 1971 out of West Texas State and was billed as a game-breaking running back and kick returner, a world-class sprinter with blazing speed and unbound potential.

He was a can’t-miss pick to solve the Giants’ running game. 

Well, Thompson missed. Three seasons and 217 yards later, Thompson was gone. However, he was an effective kick returner, as he averaged more than 25 yards per return.

Ron Johnson, who was the team’s top pick two year earlier, had a steady six-year career in the mid-70s and rushed for more than 3,800 career yards.

Twenty-seven years later, the Giants did get it right when they drafted their next running back savior.

  Saquon Barkley burst onto the scene last season, and everyone quickly realized there would be plenty more encores than three seasons.

Barkley is the Giants’ answer to their previous running back woes. He rushed for 1,305 yards and caught 91 passes for 271 more.

His total last year was just over 200 yards shy of the team’s total for the 2017 season.

The Giants’ beleaguered offensive lien started to show signs of cohesion in the second half of the season, and it has been improved for this year.

Still, Barkley will have a tough task ahead.

With Odell Beckham Jr. gone, he is the head liner with the Giant bullseye on his back.

Eli Manning is a year older and he further his rapport with Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Golden Tate.

Beyond Barkley, the running game is still a question mark.

Wayne Gallman will need to step up his game after he has shown flashes of brilliance his first two seasons.

Paul Perkins, who missed all of 2018 with an injured and was cut loose, is back. He averaged more than four yards a carry in 2017.

Elijhaa Penny, signed as a free agent from Arizona, can provide the Giants with an effective fullback again.

The consistency of the Giants’ running game will be a key to the team being a contender or pretender this season.

Barkley will surely get his numbers, but the real issue will be overall depth there. Will a productivesecond option emerge to lessen Barkley’s load and keep him upright for the year?

The running back Messiah is here.

Let’s hope he has enough time to work some miracles.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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