Over the last month or so, we’ve been discussing our 2013 Rookie of the Year prop bets. And one player who’s made our list of rookies that can be bet upon is Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard. Currently, Bernard is one of the longer shots to win since he carries 14-to-1 odds. However, the early preseason has shown that he may be undervalued at these odds.
In his last preseason outing against the Tennessee Titans, Bernard carried the ball seven times for 39 yards and a touchdown. He also added a 22-yard reception, which showcased his big-play ability.
And Bernard’s ability to make big plays is the main reason why Cincinnati took him with their second-round pick. The 5’9″, 208-pound back averaged 6.7 YPC in his final season at North Carolina, and is averaging 4.5 YPC through two games in the preseason. Assuming these stats translate over to the regular season, the 21-year-old could be in for a very promising rookie campaign.
Of course, many naysayers are quick to point out that the Bengals already have BenJarvus Green-Ellis as their primary ballcarrier. Green-Ellis compiled 1,094 rushing yards and 6 TD’s on 278 carries. However, the problem with this vet is that he’s neither explosive nor a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield. Plus Green-Ellis has been banged up in the preseason, giving Gio Bernard a solid opportunity to show fans what he’s got.
So what you’re likely to see out of the Cincinnati running game next year is a two-headed attack. Green-Ellis will start the 2013-14 season as the Bengals’ bell cow. But you can bet on Bernard getting plenty of touches in the early going as well.
One surprise area where you might see a lot of Bernard is near the goal line. He’s two-for-two on his goal line attempts in the preseason, and has already excelled in a facet where Green-Ellis was pretty bad. And if he can improve his pass blocking, the rookie will be seeing a lot of third-down snaps too.
On the other side of the fence, you also have to consider that this is just the preseason, and it’s hard to base an entire year on what happens in two warm-up games. Plus Green-Ellis is a proven veteran who was sat out of the Tennessee contest to rest up.
But one thing is clear: Giovani Bernard is definitely going to be on the field. And if he continues doing as well as he’s done in the preseason, this will no doubt be a strong rookie year.