Giants GM Joe Schoen picked elusive, pass-catching Oklahoma running back Eric Gray on the final day of the NFL Draft to add another weapon to Brian Daboll’s offense.
The Giants used their No. 172 overall pick in the fifth round on Gray to supplement a backfield that for now is missing Saquon Barkley.
Barkley is unhappy with his contract situation, hasn’t signed his franchise tag tender and is staying away from the team facility.
Gray, 23, a second-team All-Big 12 selection as a senior, is a shifty runner who often makes the first defender miss and an accomplished route-runner and pass catcher out of the backfield.
His ability as a receiver is the X-factor addition to the Giants’ rotation that also includes Matt Breida, Gary Brightwell and Jashaun Corbin.
“One [it’s about] just having natural hands to catch, being able to route run,” Gray said. “Me personally, I have a good feel for knowing coverages coming out of the backfield, knowing if it’s man, zone, if I need to break it this way; setting crisp routes and getting to my depth. I’ve been blessed to be a pretty good route runner out of the backfield.”
Gray had a private workout early in the draft process with new Giants running backs coach Jeff Nixon that led to Saturday’s selection.
The transfer from Tennessee had a big year in 2022, carrying the ball 213 times for 1,366 yards and 11 touchdowns, and catching 33 passes for 229 yards.
He was only clocked running a 4.62 40-yard dash at his pro day, and he had five fumbles in his college career. But his elusiveness and vision and pass-catching make him a weapon for Daniel Jones.
Gray is joining his former Tennessee teammate Jalin Hyatt on the Giants, too: he played with the wide receiver with the Volunteers before transferring.