Rookie Running Back Giovani Bernard Garners Lofty Comparisons

USA TODAY Sports

In his Friday press conference, head coach Marvin Lewis dished out high praise for rookie running back Giovani Bernard, comparing him to current game-breaking running backs like Ray Rice and MJD.

When discussing potential, one of the easiest ways of quantifying the unquantifiable is to fall back on comparisons. Comparisons allow us to project talent in an easily digestible form that frees us from abstract concepts like projected ceilings, upside, or any other tidbit of draft jargon.

So, when asked about his thoughts on newly drafted running back Giovani Bernard, it is no surprise that Marvin Lewis opted to give his reply by way of comparison.

"What everybody doesn't understand, when you look at Ray Rice when he was a young player, this guy is already a little taller, a little heavier. The only difference in the two of them is Ray's arms were two inches longer. If that matters. We're looking at comparisons of (Doug) Martin, and the back down in Jacksonville (Maurice Jones-Drew), and those kind of guys with that kind of stature. Everybody sees where they are now, but you also look at physically where they started out, and I think Gio’s got special ability that way."

Ray Rice, Doug Martin, and MJD--all 5'9" or shorter and all loaded with game-breaking talent. Pretty high praise for the rookie. But that wasn't all Lewis had to say. He also compared Bernard to a former Bengals running back, Pro Bowler and season rushing record holder Rudi Johnson.

To me his running style is a lot like Rudi, although he's probably a little quicker than what Rudi. But obviously, the way they're built to the ground.

It takes more than just height, however, to qualify for such lofty comparisons. As Lewis notes, Bernard's running style and agility are the true factors that set him apart from most backs. Most importantly, Bernard also shares a similar frame with all four of the previously mentioned runners, which should allow him to bulk up and become more than just a third-down back (though as Lewis points out, Bernard is already ahead of where Ray Rice was in terms of stature coming into the league).

Although the year is young and Bernard has only participated in one and half days of Bengals' practices, his career in stripes is already looking very bright indeed.

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