Jamison Hensley of ESPN believes Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Giovani Bernard is coming into the NFL in a very similar way that Jacksonville Jaguars All-Pro Maurice Jones-Drew did when he went from a second-round draft pick in 2006 to making the Pro Bowl three times and leading the NFL in rushing in 2011:
In terms of projection, I can see Bernard following a path similar to Jones-Drew this year. In 2006, Jones-Drew was a second-round pick who backed up an established back in Fred Taylor. Jones-Drew totaled 212 touches as a rookie, running the ball 166 times and making 46 catches.
Like Jones-Drew, Bernard doesn’t have to be the featured back right away because BenJarvus Green-Ellis will remain the starter. Green-Ellis is under contract for two more seasons, which will allow Bernard to develop and eventually become a three-down back.
Bernard was a guest on NFL AM yesterday, and talked his role being in the Bengals offense as a complementary back:
I think it’s more so a complementary kind of thing. I think we (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) are both going to help each other out. I definitely had a chance to talk to him, and he’s the leader of that pack, he’s the leader of the guys. I’m going to be following his footsteps, so I’m going to do whatever I can to help him. He’s going to help me.
Bernard later appeared on NFL Total Access, and said he does want to challenge Ellis for the starting role:
I wanna start. That’s my mentality. I’m always going to want to strive for the highest spot, and that’s the #1 spot, but I know my role. I know where I belong, and I’m gonna work with Benny and we’ll help each other out.
Bernard was also a guest on the NFL Draft Tracker Podcast, and talked about what his first experience was like this past weekend at the Bengals rookie minicamp.