Last month we started our look at potential early round draft prospects for the Pittsburgh Steelers by breaking down a few of the early round outside linebacker prospects. Today we will shift our focus to the running back position and start a discussion on Giovani Bernard out of North Carolina, who you have probably seen associated elsewhere as a prospect for the Steelers.
Below is my quick profile on Bernard along with his college stats and a few videos on him. In the comments below please add the strengths and weaknesses that you feel that he has and why you think that he is or isn\'t a prospect for the Steelers.
Bernard is a smaller back with the ability to work out of one or two back sets. While he is listed at 5 foot 9 and 5 foot 10 on some sites, he claimed to only be 5 foot 8 in a recent interview, so it will be interesting to see what he measures in at later this month at the NFL combine.
Bernard possesses quick feet and above average short area quickness in the backfield, and the game tape shows that he is patient in setting up his blocks. He started his career at North Carolina in a pro style offense but ended it in a spread offense thanks to coaching changes, but his ability to jump cut made his transition go just fine. He has good vision despite his short stature.
As a pass blocker Bernard will need improvement as he generally will rely on cutting defenders low instead of taking them on high. The effort is there for him, but he does tend to lean forward too much, so this could be improved with focus on technique.
Out of the backfield Bernard is a great pass catcher that can either lose himself through the line after play action or run the wheel route. He possesses above average hands and turns quickly up the field with the football after catching it.
While Bernard does not have elite breakaway speed, he did have several runs and receptions of over 20 yards and he is not above lowering his shoulder on defenders in the secondary for additional yardage.
Bernard does have some injury concerns that will need to be checked out as an ACL injury cost him his true freshman year and he missed two games last year due also to a knee problem. He reminds you a little of Ray Rice with his ability and is roughly the same size.
Durability and size are two biggest concerns connected with Bernard, who will most likely be selected in the second or third round of the draft. He doesn\'t appear to have any character red flags attached to him.
Below are stats and videos of Bernard along with audio from a recent interview that he did on Trib Live Radio.