NFC East blogger Matt Mosley asked me, "How has Ahmad Bradshaw become one of the best running backs in the league?"
I don’t think Bradshaw is one of the best running backs in the league. I would put him in the top 15, but he isn’t elite. That being said, Bradshaw can be on my team any day of the week and I very much respect how he plays the game.
First, the positives. Bradshaw runs with excellent aggression. He can get low and is explosive with the ability to drive through tacklers. He plays bigger than his stature (5-foot-9). Bradshaw likes contact and can set the tone for the Giants with his tenacity. He is decisive. In fact, despite his size, he is a very good short-yardage runner. He also has big-play ability, excellent agility and great vision in tight quarters or when scanning the entire field.
My concerns are minor. I just don’t see Bradshaw as a workhorse back. He has a history of often being nicked up in one way or another. And with the level of aggression he runs with, it would surprise me if that wasn’t always the case. To sustain a high level of ground effectiveness, Bradshaw needs to be teamed with another significant contributor -- preferably a bigger power back. While not a negative, Bradshaw is fortunate to run behind an excellent run-blocking front five and the other members of the Giants’ offense are also good peripheral blockers. Also, the Giants’ passing game is improving rapidly, which of course opens up room underneath for Bradshaw as a pass-catcher. Having such a strong supporting cast isn’t necessarily a negative, but it has to be taken into account when scouting a player.
Bradshaw has four years’ experience and is still only 24 years old. Bradshaw also only has 406 career carries. His lowest per carry average is 4.8, a very impressive number. So if he isn’t run into the ground and is properly spelled, his best days still might be ahead of him. This might be especially true in the passing game. In 2009, Bradshaw had 21 catches, a career high. This season, he needs one more grab to reach 21 and obviously there is a lot more football to be played this season. He is progressing quite well as a receiver and is very dangerous after the catch. Bradshaw’s pass protection is also improving. Overall, he is an ascending player.