The Cincinnati Bengals went into the 2013 NFL Draft looking to add some excitement to the backfield, and in that regard, they hit a homerun in second round pick Giovani Bernard. Most people expected the team to select a running back at some point, but were pleasantly surprised when they made Bernard the first back selected. In college, he flashed game-breaking ability with a spectacular combination of speed, agility, and vision, making him the top-ranked running back more often than not. The Bengals nabbed him, and he’s made them look smart.
The Bengals wanted a back to provide a change of pace to veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a workhorse back who is dependable and solid, but doesn’t scare anybody. Enter Bernard, who proceeded to have a magical rookie season, with over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns. He also electrified fans along the way, who were mesmerized by his highlight reel runs, particularly a jaw-dropping 35-yard touchdown run against the Miami Dolphins that was possibly the play of the year. Expectations are high going into his second season, and fans are eager to see what else he can do.
So what can Bernard do in year two? The Bengals will still employ a running back by committee approach, but Gio can be expected to see more touches, in both the running and passing games. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry in 2013, and they’d like to see him improve that number in 2014 by being less hesitant when getting into running lanes. Green-Ellis will still be the battering ram that sets up Bernard’s quickness, but fans can prepare themselves to see Bernard featured more, especially when it’s most important.
Giovani Bernard is one of the most fun players in the NFL to watch. Fans will be on the edge of their seats every time he touches the ball, and with good reason. The 2014 season figures to be a great one if his rookie year is any indication. He could have a huge year. All he needs is the ball.