Giants might have a hidden gem in their backfield

Nov 18, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Purdue Boilermakers running back Tyrone Tracy Jr. (3)(New York Giants) breaks a tackle by Northwestern Wildcats defensive back Rod Heard II (24) for a touchdown run in the third quarter at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are rebuilding their backfield this offseason after losing superstar running back Saquon Barkley in free agency. While newly-signed rusher Devin Singletary is projected to take on the brunt of the workload, the Giants have a late-round rookie who could be a hidden gem in their backfield.

The Giants drafted an intriguing talent in the 5th round

Nov 18, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA;  Purdue Boilermakers running back Tyrone Tracy Jr. (New York Giants) (3) runs with the ball against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 18, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Purdue Boilermakers running back Tyrone Tracy Jr. (3) runs with the ball against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

With their fifth-round draft pick, the Giants selected Purdue running back Tyrone Tracy Jr. this offseason. Tracy Jr. is an intriguing talent who possesses a rare blend of versatility and athleticism. The 5-foot-11, 209-pound running back ran a 4.48s 40-yard dash and posted a 9.78 relative athletic score (RAS) which ranked 42 out of 1,903 running backs from 1987 to 2024.

Tracy Jr. began his collegiate career as a wide receiver before transitioning into the backfield. This position switch paid off for Tracy Jr. as he developed his skills in the backfield to become a draftable player in 2023.

Tyrone Tracy Jr. could be a hidden gem

East Rutherford , NJ — May 10, 2024 -- Running back fifth round draft pick, Tyrone Tracy Jr. as the NY Giants hold their Rookie Camp and introduce their new draft picks.
East Rutherford , NJ — May 10, 2024 — Running back fifth round draft pick, Tyrone Tracy Jr. as the NY Giants hold their Rookie Camp and introduce their new draft picks. Credit: Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tracy Jr. did not receive much pre-draft buzz due to his lack of experience playing running back in college. However, in his one season playing running back, Tracy Jr. was especially impressive.

In 2023, Tracy Jr. rushed for 716 yards and eight touchdowns. His 90.5 Pro Football Focus rushing grade in 2023 ranked third among Big Ten running backs. He also posted a career PFF Elusive Rating of 133.80 which ranked 10th among running backs drafted since 2018 in Round 5 or earlier.

According to PFF, Tracy Jr.’s 23.1% explosive run rate was the best in this year’s draft class and ranked in the 97th percentile among all prospects since 2018. He is also tied with the best running backs in the PFF college era in missed tackles forced per attempt (0.39). Tracy Jr. forced 46 missed tackles in 2023.

In addition to demonstrating his skills as an explosive rusher, Tracy Jr. also exhibited explosiveness as a receiver out of the backfield during his collegiate career:

Buzz is starting to build around Tracy Jr. as analysts project he could far exceed expectations early in his career. Tracy Jr. is the highest-rising fantasy football player in ADP (average draft position), per Sharp Football Analysis (h/t Gridiron Media). He has a rare opportunity to steal playing time as a late-round rookie in a thin Giants backfield.

With Tracy Jr.’s tackle-breaking and receiving abilities, he could be a slept-on rookie entering the 2024 season who quickly earns a larger role. As the Giants shift toward a running back by-committee approach this season, expect Tracy Jr. to be featured prominently in the new-look offense.

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