Giants could target ‘downhill’ running back as potential Saquon Barkley replacement in 2024 NFL Draft

Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Audric Estime (New York Giants draft prospect) (7) breaks free for another touchdown run against the Stanford Cardinal during the third quarter at Stanford Stadium
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are in danger of losing superstar running back Saquon Barkley in free agency this offseason. Barkley is seeking a long-term extension that makes him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL at his position. However, the Giants seem conflicted as to whether or not they want to give their star rusher such a deal.

Giants general manager Joe Schoen pointed out this week at the NFL Scouting Combine that the running back market is “saturated.” This hard truth could prevent Big Blue from signing Barkley to an extension, but it could also allow them to find his replacement pretty easily.

On day two of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Giants could target Notre Dame RB Audric Estime as a potential replacement for Barkley. The 227-pound rusher could be a viable option for Big Blue if they plan to find their next lead rusher in this year’s draft.

Giants could target Notre Dame RB Audric Estime in the NFL Draft

Estime is described as a “downhill runner” who plays with power and physicality out of the backfield. He is entering the draft coming off a breakout 2023 campaign in which he rushed for 1,341 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Fighting Irish.

At 5-foot-11, 227 pounds, Estime looks like he was born to play the running back position — and he plays like it, too. The Draft Network describes Estime as a “big-bodied, power ball-carrier with experience in both gap and zone-blocking schemes.”

Estime, Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 ranked running back in this year’s draft class, has a day-two draft projection. He will look to solidify that this weekend during the NFL Scouting Combine. There are questions about Estime’s long speed and ability to explode out of his breaks at times. If he posts impressive athletic measurables in Indy, Estime could settle himself as a second or third-round draft choice.

The Giants need to add more explosion to their offense while also finding more consistency in their rushing attack. As a big-bodied, between-the-tackles rusher, Estime has the potential to serve as a workhorse running back at the next level. Estime could be drafted and developed into the Giants’ next version of Brandon Jacobs if they decide to target him on day two of the draft.

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