Giants’ Draft Sleeper Tipped for ‘Tony Pollard-Like Impact’ in 2024

Tony Pollard

Getty A New York Giants' draft sleeper is tipped to have a "Tony Pollard-like impact."

Replacing Saquon Barkley won’t be easy for the New York Giants, but they may have found their own Tony Pollard in the late rounds of the 2024 NFL draft.

Fifth-round pick Tyrone Tracy Jr. is rated as the best sleeper from the Giants’ draft class, somebody who could have a similar impact to Tennessee Titans running back and ex-Dallas Cowboys star Pollard.

That’s the view of The 33rd Team’s Marcus Mosher, who believes Tracy will feature as a rookie, despite the Giants signing Devin Singletary in free agency. As Mosher put it, “Only Singletary is ahead of him on the depth chart, so Tracy should find a role right away. He is the most explosive running back on the roster and could have a Tony Pollard-like impact on the Giants in Year 1.”

The idea Tracy can feature immediately for the Giants is shared by Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar. He rates the former Purdue star as the true sleeper of this class, and pointed out how “With Saquon Barkley out of the picture, the Giants had a pre-draft running back rotation of Devin Singletary, 2023 fifth-round pick Eric Gray, and a bunch of ‘meh’ after that. Which means that anyone coming in from the draft would have an opportunity beyond the preseason.”

Tony Pollard Comparisons Make Sense for Giants

Pollard is a good comparison because he made the same transition from wide receiver at Memphis Tracy later made for the Boilermakers. The switch “likely saved his career,” according to Mosher.

The Cowboys didn’t always take advantage of Pollard’s crossover skills as a wideout, but he was effective when given the chance. Like for this touchdown catch from the slot against the Detroit Lions back in 2019.

Tracy had his own moments as a receiver out of the backfield for Purdue. He tallied 47 receptions in two seasons after redefining himself as a running back, per Sports Reference.

Like Pollard, Tracy is adept turning short catches into longer gains. As Empire Sports Media’s Alex Wilson detailed, “129 yards of 138 receiving yards came after catch.”

Gaining yards in chunks isn’t unique to the passing game for Tracy. He’s also a player capable of expanding what the Giants produce on the ground.

Tyrone Tracy Jr. Is the Big-Play Runner Giants Need

A flair for the big play was obvious as soon as Tracy became a running back: “In his first year playing the position, Tracy led the Big Ten in yards per carry (6.3) and scored eight rushing touchdowns,” per Mosher. Even if “Tracy isn’t ready to be a full-time running back (146 career carries in college), he is an incredible athlete who is a threat to score on any play.”

His impressive yards per carry stats are similar to the 4.8 career average Pollard has managed. It’s an average based on the veteran posting over five yards per rush in three of his five seasons.

His speed to attack the edges made outside runs a popular part of the Cowboys’ playbook. It’s something the Giants found out the hard way for the first of Pollard’s two touchdowns from Week 1.

Tracy has the same lateral speed, something he showed off en route to “714 yards, eight touchdowns, 46 forced missed tackles, 14 carries of 15 or more yards, and 36 first downs on just 114 carries,” per Farrar.

Those numbers owed a lot to plays like this counter run against Michigan, highlighted by Nick Falato of SB Nation’s Big Blue View.

There’s room for a back with Tracy’s versatility and sudden-strike skills. The Giants lack experience behind Singletary and would be counting on a considerable second-year leap from Eric Gray. An alternative would be to sign a tough free agent with a 1,000-yard season on his resume.

Giants head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka finding multiple ways to turn Tracy loose early will make seeing Barkley ply his trade for the Philadelphia Eagles easier to take.

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