Kevin Gilbride had a favorable first impression of David Wilson, but he is not ready to say how the speedy back's presence will change the look of the Giants' rushing attack.
Wilson, the running back from Virginia Tech selected in the first round of last month's NFL Draft, showed off his speed, explosiveness and elusiveness today as the Giants opened their rookie minicamp. The fleet back, who rushed for 1,709 yards for the Hokies last season, seemed to effortlessly zip through the line after each handoff, and he sprinted far down the field every time he carried the ball.
"He looks very fast, which we knew going in," said Gilbride, the team's offensive coordinator. "But to actually see it on the field, it was - I'm trying to think of the right word - encouraging, exciting. Both of those things seem to come to mind. He looks like if he has a hole, he'll hit it and has a chance to do some damage."
The question is, how will he do it? Wilson weighs approximately 205 pounds. He steps into a backfield opening created by the departure of Brandon Jacobs, who was listed at 264 pounds.
So will the style of the rushing attack change with the smaller but quicker Wilson playing the sidekick to starter Ahmad Bradshaw?
"It's impossible to predict it right now," Gilbride said. "Again, you saw a 270-pound back to a 200-pound back. Just from the size, if we lined up coming out of the bus, we're probably not as impressive as we once were. You've seen, as tough as he is, Ahmad, he has a tough time lasting a whole season with all of the problems he's had physically. You need some guys to play. So whether it's Danny Ware substituting in or it's Andre Brown or whoever or it's David Wilson, somebody is going to have to play that position – there's no question.
"After one day I don't want to go overboard on him, but he did look like if there was a hole, he's capable of turning a five-yard gain into a big play. That was good to see."
Gilbride also gave an initial thumbs up to wide receiver Rueben Randle, the second-round choice from LSU. Randle demonstrated speed, quickness out of his breaks and soft hands.
"He looks smooth and he's obviously thinking, like they all are," Gilbride said. "So you don't see maybe the explosiveness that we expect to see and know we'll see down the road. But in terms of going deep and just going down the field he looked pretty good and did the things that we needed him to do, which was go catch the ball when we threw it to him."
With Mario Manningham now playing in San Francisco, Randle has an opportunity to earn meaningful playing time.
Although real judgments can't be made on the rookies until they put pads on in training camp and play in preseason games, it seems the Giants secured two players at the top of the draft who will energize the offense in 2012.
"You hope so," Gilbride said. "It's definitely needed. We lost a lot of guys. We lost five starters the year before on offense. You lose a couple other guys. You certainly need to start to replenish the troops. Again, it looks like you have an explosive guy in the running back and what you see on film, it looked like you had a receiver that is capable of making some deep catches, running by some people. As you guys have seen us unfold with those other two guys, they're intermediate.
"Certainly Hakeem (Nicks) can go deep, but you need that third component so that when people start skewing over and start clamping down on (Victor) Cruz and Nicks, you got a guy that if it's one-on-one has the ability to get over the top and hurt people like Manningham did. Whether it's (Jerrel) Jernigan, whether it's Ramses Barden or whether it's Rueben Randle, we need somebody to be able to do that. He looks, between his size and what looked like the speed he had on film, that he has the potential to do that. I have my fingers crossed."