North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard exits Carolina as one of the best RBs in Tar Heel history and will be the top back in this years draft class. Where will he end up? We’ll have to wait until April 25th to know for sure, until then all we have is speculation, let’s take a look at where Gio could end up at the next level.
Here’s a look at the draft order if the season ended today via NFL.com. RBs in the draft have lost value in today’s NFL due to their short shelf life in the league and the growing trend in the league of using two or more backs to carry the load. Nowadays it’s common to see top flight backs picked in the later rounds of the draft with the elite backs taken late in the first round.
The 2013 projected draft order is intriguing because a few teams near the top have a need at RB and several teams towards the middle also could use a back like Bernard while the bottom of the first round is mostly stacked with teams set at the position.
2013 NFL Draft order … if the season ended today
1 Kansas City Chiefs 2-13-0: Gio is good, but he’s not #1 overall pick good and the Chiefs are likely to take a QB and do not have a need at RB with Jamal Charles totting the rock. Chances of Gio to the Chiefs: 0%
2 Jacksonville Jaguars 2-13-0 The Jags are set at RB with Maurice Jones Drew as the featured back and a solid #2 in Rashad Jennings to go along with a ton of other needs including QB (regardless of whether or not they do in fact bring in Tim Tebow) Chances of Gio to the Jags: 0%
3 Oakland Raiders 4-11-0 Chances of Gio to the Raiders: 1%, you never know what the Raiders will do and most of the time it doesn’t make sense therefore even with Darren McFadden you can’t discount anything with the Raiders.
4 Philadelphia Eagles 4-11-0 LeSean MCcoy is one of the leagues top backs and I suspect whomever the Eagles choose to hire as their new head coach after Andy Reid is inevitably fired will look to make him the focus of the offense. The Eagles have plenty of needs and won’t go RB in the first round. Chances of Gio to the Eagles: 0%
5 Detroit Lions 4-11-0 The Lions were supposed to do a whole lot more this season and their offense was supposed to be a whole lot better than it was this season with the lone bright spot being WR Calvin Johnson. The running game took a huge hit with the injury to Jahvid Best last season and Joique Bell isn’t the answer and neither is anybody else on the roster. This team has a lot of needs and it’s anybodys guess where they will go but RB is certaintly an option and the Lions present the best chance for Gio to go high in the draft. Still, this would be very high for a team to pick up a back and with a lot of needs they will likely look elsewhere with the #5 pick and look to improve the backfield later in the draft or in free agency. Chances of Gio to the Lions: 10%
6 Buffalo Bills 5-10-0 CJ Spiller turned out to be one of the most explosive backs in football this season with close to 1200 yards through 15 games and an NFL best 6.5 yards per carry he has a bright future as the Bills ball carrier. Buffalo also has Fred Jackson on the roster and zero need at the RB position. Chances of Gio to the Bills: 0%
7 Cleveland Browns 5-10-0 Last season the Browns selected Trent Richardson with their first round pick and with a ton of needs across the board they won’t be selecting a RB. Chances of Gio to the Browns: 0%
8 Tennessee Titans 5-10-0 Chris Johnson started off very slow this season but has since turned it on and now has just under 1200 yards through 15 games. The team committed a big contract to Johnson recently and will not look at the RB position in the first round. Chances of Gio to the Titans: 1% The only thing that would make this team take a look at Gio would be if they were worried Johnson would fall back on his early season struggles and parted ways with him which would mean a hefty salary cap hit.
9 Arizona Cardinals 5-10-0 Top back Beanie Wells made a statement on Christmas Eve that he thought it was inevidable that he would be moving on from Arizona this off season. Wells has not lived up to his billing and the Cardinals do not have another viable option to carry the load on the roster. The Cardinals desperately need a QB but are pretty set on defense and with Larry Fitzgerald it’s possible this team could see a huge improvement if they are able to land a veteran QB such as Alex Smith or Michael Vick in the off season. If the Cards aren’t able to land a veteran signal caller they could look to the draft. They have one of the leagues worst offensive lines and that’s where I expect them to go here but if they are satisfied at those positions heading into draft day they could look to Gio to upgrade their rushing attack. Still those are a lot of dominoes that need to fall just right in order for Bernard to land in Arizona with the #9 pick. Chances of Gio to the Cardinals: 15%
10 San Diego Chargers 6-9-0 The Chargers are intriguing Ryan Matthews can’t seem to stay healthy and the running game in San Diego has been anything but consistent. The disappointing Chargers have a lot of needs but supplying Phillip Rivers with a consistent rushing attack could be at the top of their list. Chances of Gio to the Chargers: 20%
11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-9-0 Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount are two big reasons this team won’t even think about taking a back in the first round. Chances of Gio to the Bucs: 0%
12 New York Jets 6-9-0 The Jets are a circus and they will likely make securing a new signal caller their top priority next season, that is after they find a new coach when they fire Rex “I guarantee a Super Bowl” Ryan. Of all the problems on this team Shonn Green is a good featured back and will remain in that role next season. Chances of Gio to the Jets: 0%
13 Carolina Panthers 6-9-0 The Panthers have paid out big money to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and also brought in Mike Tolbert last season, the last thing they need is yet another RB. Chances of Gio to the Panthers: 0%
14 Pittsburgh Steelers 7-8-0 The Steelers running game was in flux most of the season due to injury to top back Rashard Mendenhall. However even when Mendenhall has been healthy he hasn’t been very effective. Pittsburgh may look to upgrade the receiver position after a lengthy contract dispute with Mike Wallace who will again be a free agent this off season. They also have needs on an aging defense. Supplying Ben Roethlisberger with a consistent rushing attack is a viable option and the chances of the Steelers taking a back here depends on the coaching staffs confidence in Mendenhall’s bounce back ability and their assessment of the draft board at positions of other team needs. Chances of Gio to the Steelers: 8%
15 Miami Dolphins 7-8-0 Do the Dolphins really think Reggie Bush can carry the load? I hope not for the sake of Miami fans and with a young QB it could serve this team well to put a real rushing attack together. Chances of Gio to the Dolphins: 22%
16 New Orleans Saints 7-8-0 The Saints like to use a lot of different backs and currently have a three headed system with Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas with Chris Ivory also on the roster. I don’t expect the Saints struggles they went through this season to carry over into next season when they get head coach Sean Payton back. The strength of this team is their explosive offense and I think we will see them go defense here. Still, the lure of possibly handing the running game to one every down back could be alluring and while slim it wouldn’t blow me away to see the Saints select Gio if they think he’s the best player on the board. Chances of Gio to the Saints: 5%
Analysis of the bottom half of the draft after the jump