NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Gio Bernard, RB North Carolina

North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard
North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard
North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: RB Giovani Bernard

Player Information:

Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina
5-10, 205 pounds
Hometown: Davie, FL


NFL Combine:


News and Notes:

Bernard enters the NFL as a redshirt sophomore … Missed his freshman season with a torn ACL before becoming the Tar Heels’ starting running back for two seasons … Can do everything from the position: catches the ball well out of the backfield and hits the hole quickly … 45 receptions as freshman, 47 catches as a sophomore … Started over Wisconsin RB James White at St. Thomas Aquinas HS in Florida … 2012 First-Team All-ACC (ACSMA, Coaches, Phil Steele) … 2012 ACC Player of the Year ( … 2012 Third-Team All-America (Associated Press, Phil Steele) … 2011 First-Team All-ACC (ACSMA) … 2011 First-Team Freshman All-America

 What they’re saying about him:

  • “Bernard is compactly built with good lower body drive, running decisive and hard with some power. He has quick feet and loose hips to make smooth lateral cuts and make open field moves with the acceleration to force poor angles by defenders.”
  • “Nifty, elusive, double cut runner that consistently creates his own yardage.” (Only RB that warrants a 1st-round grade.)
  • Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Natural runner with great vision.
  • Impressive as a receiver out of the backfield. Doesn’t only catch screen passes; runs a number of pass patterns and catches the ball with his hands.
  • Doesn’t have breakaway speed, but has enough to get to the second level.
  • Perhaps the nation’s best punt returner this past season; returned 16 punts for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Ball security not much of a concern; lost two fumbles as a redshirt freshman but didn’t lose a fumble during the 2012 season.
  • For only playing two years of college football, Bernard is a polished runner with a complete skill set for a running back.
  • I really like the idea of Bernard in the Packers offense. North Carolina ran a lot out of the shotgun, asking Bernard to pick up the blitz as well as catch passes out of the backfield. The Packers haven’t had a guy that could run, catch and pick up the blitz in some time. To me, Bernard is a natural fit for what the Packers like to do offensively.

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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.


29 thoughts on “NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Gio Bernard, RB North Carolina

    1. All the game video I’ve watched from him suggests he’s effective picking up the blitz. There’s room for improvement coming into the NFL, but it’s not a concern for me at this point.

    1. The ACL is no longer the death sentence to a career that it used to be, just like Tommy John surgery for baseball players. It’s an inconvenience that costs you a year.

      This guy sounds like a Jamaal Charles type (who also blew out his knee) to me, but getting him outside the first round would fell better than using a #1, if the draft fell that way.

      1. Dobber – I see the comparison between Bernard and Charles in regards to ACL injuries. However, Bernard isn’t nearly the “burner” that Charles is.

        Jamaal Charles was a track star at Texas. I bet Bernard runs somewhere between 4.48 and 4.55 in the forty.

    2. Ron – Right now, I think he’s a borderline 1st/2nd round pick. After offseason workouts, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the first RB off the board.

    3. Low rounder? Sarcasm or a serious comment? I haven’t seen 1 mock or heard from one draft “expert” that has him any later than the second round. Bad knee? Frank Gore, Willis Mcgahee, Adrian Peterson; I would say they’ve done alright after acl tears. Bernard is a great talent and if he happens to fall to the bottom of the second round I think the Packers would have to seriously look at drafting him. Good writeup Marques.

  1. I trust TT and his staff to evaluate him, especially when I consider what I saw watching the provided video. I saw massive holes to run through. Does he have the giddy-up to bounce outside against NFL speed when it’s all bottled up? How will he do with our version of zone-(un)blocking scheme? We cannot provide him with the same blocking.

    1. You’re right in that UNC had a great offensive line. And in this particular game, Bernard had some huge holes to run through.

      If you’re interested, watch some of his other games this past year. His game against Miami is another good one, where he shows an ability to make something out of nothing.

      As far as running between the tackles, catching the ball out of the backfield, and being an overall home-run threat, I’m fully behind Bernard as the No. 1 RB in this year’s draft. Borderline first-round pick.

      1. I haven’t checked out other videos on him yet.
        However, the VA Tech D reminded me of another team’s D I’ve seen recently. N. Carolina really man-handled them.

  2. Warning! Warning!

    To all Analyists…Beep…Beep…Beep

    Please put down the Fantastic Four comic book when doing seems ‘Stretch’ is very popular and addictive.


    This has been an emergency broadcast for draft necessities…Thank You!!!

    1. Not exactly sure what you mean. Perhaps you could tell me what concerns you about him as a prospect …

      Don’t think he can pick up the blitz? Worried about his durability? Can’t catch a pass out of the backfield?

      I don’t read comic books, but I’m open to discussion in regards to the Draft.


      1. Elon,WForest,Louis,ECar,Ida,VirTech,Vir,Mia,Duke,NCST,GeoTech,Mary combined at DE,DT,ILB,OLB 12 players in the draft and the vast majority are low rd FAs.
        The average of these defenses against the run is approx 165yds per game,which says pretty much everyone ran well on them.He has no criteria against real run defense talent.
        Can this kid be the deal,sure…but thinking he goes to the Pack as their 1st,which would have him being rated higher than any other positon like OL/DL/LB that would be yet available at #26….IMO,reach is mild.

        Lighten up…draft season just started.
        LOL.Have a nice Day!

        1. good angle on the analysis of a RB, Taryn.. Now the question is, how do you factor in the competition/resistance a player met vs. that players physical tools/skills?

          Clearly, production is a three-fold metric- the output is a result of not only player talent and his team’s execution around him, but also the level of play of the opposing team on the field.

          I guess that’s why there’s professional scouts. But that doesn’t mean that us amateurs can’t have a good time dicing up film and talking about it.

  3. I’m sure Bernard is more talented than DuJuan Harris, but Harris is a similar type of player. And I don’t think it wise to use a #1 pick on a “moderately better version of a guy we already have” player. I’m cool with going RB in the 1st round, but only a three-down battering ram. Eddie Lacy is the only guy I would take in round 1.

    1. I see your line of thinking, Lou. Bernard and Harris are similar-type RBs. However, I see Harris as a great change-of-pace back, versus a reliable starter.

      I’m excited about Harris and definitely think he’ll stick around, but I’m intrigued by Bernard. As far as Bernard vs. Lacy, I give Bernard the definite edge there. He does everything, and that’s the kind of RB you want if you’re spending an early pick on him.

      1. Don’t see the point of having 2 RB neither of which can possibly be an everydown RB. Its kinda redundant to have 2 RB that are basically the same in almost every way. Lets find another RB that can be an everydown RB. I’m ok w/ Lacy but he doesn’t do much for me. LaVeon Bell, I agree w/ you, don’t like him at all. Don’t see him being successful in the NFL. Of the RB in this draft Montee Ball and Taylor? the Stanford kid, are the best for the Packers. Bernard might be a better overall RB, but he’s just too much like Harris to be worthwhile. We need another guy that can be a great fit for the Packers. IMO Montee Ball will be the best fit. Good tough, Physical inside runner, w/ great vision and a good short yardage guy.

      2. Lacy doesn’t have to be a day one pick. I’ve been reading a lot on the guy from Stanford being available later.

  4. Agreed Lou. If anything…we need a move the pile running back. i.e. Eddie Lacy/ Le’Veon Bell. We already have a quicker-type scat back in Harris. And I’m not giving up hope on Green. He looked more patient later in the year. I’m not sold that a 1st/2nd round RB improves our offense that much. DuJuan Harris ran it beautifully when given the chance. McCarthy just needs to actually call more runs. But that’s a whole different topic.

    1. Didn’t seem to be too first down marker conscious; didn’t lower his pads to get those few extra feet.

    2. Play-calling certainly plays a part in the Packers’ lackluster running game, no doubt.

      But I’m not so sure about the whole “different style RB” thing. I think you can have a solid 1-2 punch with similar players, it’s just a matter of getting “fresh legs” in there. I personally think Le’Veon Bell will fizzle out of the league, but Lacy will be a solid pick.

      Still, Bernard is hands-down my top-rated RB in the draft. So versatile.

      1. I’m not disagreeing that having a 1-2 punch with the same type back can be effective. I meant it more from a Packer specific view that they only run 20 times a game so to have each back only get 10 carries a game seems like a waste of a high draft pick. I believe that DuJuan and Green can run this 2-back system but we still need a bull for 3rd/4th and short.

        1. James Starks is -supposed- to be that bull.

          Unfortunately, the bull can’t stay healthy, and sucks at picking up the blitz.

  5. I really hope the packers ignore the RB position in this draft. The packers need to get more physical on both sides of the ball up front. I think spending a first round pick on any RB is misguided in today’s nfl. You do not need a stud RB to win a superbowl. you need studs on OL and DL. If the packers did not have dujuan harris i would be okay with spending a mid round pick on a RB, but they have harris so RB is out for me this year. good article though. i wish bernard was a little more decisive, he seems to bounce through holes instead of running through them.

    1. That’s a really big RB. If he’s that big, GB should consider moving him to OL or DL where they have bigger needs. 😉

  6. First you need an offensive line to run behind, and the Packers don’t have that! This team needs a Left Tackle, Left Guard and possibly Center as well. Until those are addressed, who’s running the ball will only be hit and miss. Don’t forget McCarthy always throws the ball on 3rd and 1!

  7. I agree Bernard is best RB in this draft at the moment. However, that is not saying much, this draft is weak for top-end talent for RB. Lacy and Bernard benefit fm great O-Lines.
    I think the best value for RB in this draft is in 3-5 round range. I like RB like Christine Micheal fm TAM(maybe another product of good Oline too & knee injury). Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy is a good pick in round 5, but very similar to D Harris. OKST’s Randle looks good too, plays in similar O has Green Bay too. The Arky RB Knile Davis has super talent, but after knee injury he runs scaried, maybe worth a late pick to see if he came regain his nerve.
    The guy w/ highest reward/highest risk is Marcus Lattimore. That guy is a natural, genetic freak, best pure talent in draft at RB. After what AP did this year, I would say it would be worth a risking a 4th or even a 3rd for him.

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