Giovani Bernard UNC RB Scouting Report

Giovani Bernard

Giovani Bernard (Via The Daily Tar Heal)

 

By PFC Draft Writer Matt Moore (@Matt23Moore)

Overview

Giovani Bernard is a redshirt sophomore coming out of the University of North Carolina. A torn ACL in 2010 kept Bernard out for his whole true freshman season; forcing him into a medical redshirt. The 5’9’’ 202 pound back was able to recover from the torn ACL and provide North Carolina with two very productive seasons. In his freshman season, Bernard became the second Tar Heel tailback to earn first team All-ACC honors; rushing for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 1,253 yards on the ground set a new UNC freshman rushing record. Due to his drastic recovery and improvement, he was awarded the 2011 Brian Piccolo award; which is given to an ACC player player that displays tremendous amount of courage.  As an encore to his 2011 freshman season, Bernard increased his yards per carry average and total touchdowns. Amazingly in 2012, Bernard had only 25 less rushing yards on 55 less carries than the previous year. The lack of carries was in part due to a shoulder injury that put him out for two games.

Strengths

Bernard is a guy that is going to pick up consistent yards with his decision making. He displays a great deal of patience when waiting for plays to develop. Bernard combines his patience with impeccable lateral ability; bouncing from one hole to the next until an opening appears. The initial burst of Bernard is also something that stands out. He can accelerate quickly from his two point stance to the line of scrimmage. He proved this in the 20 yard shuttle during the NFL combine: running a 4.12 (tied for 3rd in his class). Bernard’s stiff arm is a huge strength he possesses. He likes to put his vicious stiff arm on display as he rushes along the sideline.

Weaknesses

For starters, Bernard is coming out of a spread offense at North Carolina. The question of whether he can adjust to an NFL offense will be on the minds of many scouts. Instead of bouncing read options to the outside, he will be asked to run between the tackles in more under-the-center formations than he is used to. Bernard’s size is something that also needs to be closely looked at by NFL scouts. According to UNC’s roster he is just 5’9’’ and according to Bernard himself he is just 5’8’’. Due to his lack of size, when defensive linemen were able to get ahold of Bernard he was quickly taken to the ground. The linemen in the NFL are only going to get bigger and faster, which is an obvious concern. Finally, scouts need to take a close look at Bernard’s breakaway speed. He has average speed for a running back, 4.53 40-yard dash, but has a tendency to get caught from behind by everyone from corners to linemen.

Character

When it comes to character, it really does not get much better than Giovani Bernard. This is a guy that was put through a tremendous amount of adversity when he suffered a torn ACL in 2010. His response was nothing short of heroic. It is truly inspiring to think that just a little more than two years after suffering a torn ACL, Bernard is looking at becoming an NFL running back. It is evident that no matter where Bernard ends up, he will work his tail off to become the team’s premier back.

Passing Game

Bernard is a big passing threat out of the backfield. The same productivity that he showed on the ground in college was coupled with solid receiving stats: 852 career receiving yards and 6 career receiving touchdowns. He has a tendency of turning a screen into a big play. Blocking is an issue for Bernard. His size, once again, hurts him when it comes to this. Blitzing linebackers and large linemen force Bernard to consistently chop block. NFL teams will quickly pick up on this and capitalize when he is in the game.

Running Style

Bernard is a quick side to side kind of guy. When Bernard loops around the edge, he is tough to bring down. He adjusts laterally to on coming defenders so that they do not get full shots on him. His pad level is another impressive intangible. Bernard remains low, when in traffic, and raises up as he gets in free space in order to gain speed. On the goal line Bernard is able to sneak through small holes to find the end zone. Cut backs are something that the NFL will have to teach Bernard. With as many read options as North Carolina ran, cut backs were never made available to Bernard in college.

Running Ability

The ability of Bernard is really what makes him an elite running back in the 2013 draft class.  In some respects, he knows how to switch his lack of size into an advantage. He can make himself as small as possible so that defenders have less to bring down. This is especially evident in runs up the middle. Often times in college, Bernard would miraculously squirt out of a cluster of defenders surrounding the middle of the field. Whether Bernard can remain to have success in inside runs in a much more physical NFL remains to be seen. In terms of outside runs and pitches, Bernard could be the most effective back of his class. It seemed as if whenever Bernard was outside of the tackles he had a gain of at least 7 yards. This is really where NFL teams should look to utilize Bernard in his rookie season.

Possible NFL Teams

The second round should claim Giovani Bernard. The favorite destination for Bernard is probably Cincinnati; who has two second round picks and should be looking for a running back.  He could share touches with BenJarvus Green-Ellis or be a solid backup with the Bengals. Green Bay would be another
great fit for Bernard. The Packers will be looking for a productive running back to take some of the pressure off Aaron Rodgers. ‘Productivity’ is Bernard’s middle name and he would provide an excellent receiving option out of the backfield for Rodgers. Other possible teams interested in Bernard include: the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Denver Broncos; all of which will be looking for more depth in their backfield.