After attending the North Carolina Tar Heels pro day in March and then being invited for dinner with members of the coaching staff at the beginning of April, it seems as though the Cincinnati Bengals are quite keen on picking up running back Giovanni Bernard to add to the backfield.
As it stands now, they are talking about drafting a running back and using him to complement current starting running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. This, however, is likely to be a short term plan, as Green Ellis has been having issues with yards per carry over the last few years, gaining 3.9 last season, and for a team who does a lot of passing, this is not really an acceptable number.
With the Bengals using deep threat A.J. Green in a bigger role and with Mohamed Sanu coming into his second year ready to clinch the second receiver position after four touchdowns in three games, this should lay the groundwork for running backs in Cincinnati to be able to average 4.5-5 yards per carry. Giovanni Bernard is excellent in open field and constantly pushes for the extra yard after a tackle, so he should be able to do the running back job in Cincinnati some justice next season. In two seasons with the Tar Heels, Bernard put up almost 3,500 total yards and 31 touchdowns at an average of 6.1 yards per carry. Definitely ideal numbers when a running back is looking to transition to the NFL.
The other thing that Bernard will bring to the Bengals, something that not many running backs in this year’s NFL Draft can do quite as effectively, is receive. Over the course of the last two seasons, Bernard has put up 752 receiving yards and six touchdowns, almost twice as many receiving yards as The Law Firm has in his entire career. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is a short passer through and through and adding a threat like Bernard in the back to catch passes, short dump offs and be able to run the screen pass, will be a welcomed addition to the Bengals offense and will be a breath of fresh air to a pass game that has barely changed in two seasons.
This time next week, we will find out what kind of running game the Bengals are looking to add, but for what it’s worth, my money is on Bernard.
Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Writer. Follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88