Photo of Giovani Bernard
Drafted By: Bengals
  • Round 2
  • Pick 5
  • Overall 37

Combine Results

84.0 ?
  • 4.53 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 19 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 33.5 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 122.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.91 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.12 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 11.41 SEC
    Top Performer
Blue Star  =  Combine Top Performer

Draft Analysis:

"I'd like to see him improve his pass protection a little bit. (Andy) Dalton needs to take another step if this team is going to get over the hump. They gave (Dalton) a tight end last night, and now they've given him a quick-footed running back." -- Mike Mayock

  • 5'8" Height
  • 28" Arm Length
  • 202LBS. Weight
  • 9 3/8" Hands


Giovani Bernard's career as a Tar Heel did not kickoff as expected. On the team's third day of practice, "Gio" tore the ACL in his right knee and was forced to redshirt the 2010 season. The Florida native and brother of Yvenson, who was an all-conference running back at Oregon State, didn't waste any time once returning to the field in 2011, and was quickly named the starter after clearly separating himself from others at the position. UNC hired Larry Fedora during the offseason, and he implemented a no-huddle, shotgun heavy offense, something Bernard wasn't accustomed to. Gio was slowed early in the 2012 season after experiencing some discomfort in his knee in the opener against Elon, and the running back was sidelined for two full games. The redshirt sophomore did return to the field against East Carolina and remained there for the next nine games.

After taking over lead back duties as a redshirt freshman, Bernard rushed for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns on 239 carries. He flashed plenty of receiving ability as well, catching 45 passes for 362 yards and one touchdown.He was forced to make a shift in his play style in 2012, as the Tar Heels focused on tempo and the shotgun formation. The blocking scheme and plays were a change for Bernard, but he still managed 1,228 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 184 carries. The stocky running back did benefit from the passing mentality UNC obtained, since he caught 47 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns. Bernard didn't stop there, as he returned 16 punts for 263 yards and two scores.



Consistently twists or falls forward for extra yardage, two hands on the ball while going down. Short strides and quick steps allow for surprising cuts. Same strides help him get up to speed very quickly. Utilizes multiple lateral hops, cuts, and the occasional spin move. Has a thick base which helps with balance to break high tacklers. Very comfortable on draws and screens, reading blocks with patience and cutting off backsides. Very good vision, sees cut back lanes, anticipates momentum and blocks, weaves through trash. Likes to use short stiff arms downfield to keep some separation. Successful pass protector, mostly uses cut blocks. Reliable receiver. Quick initial move after the catch frequently makes the first man miss, especially when trailing.


Torn ACL in 2010. Does not elect for fair catch as a punt returner even with coverage bearing down on him. Always goes for cut block in pass protection instead of attacking face up. Wish he brought more power on first contact, more often has an elusive style. Body catcher when asked to be a receiver. Large number of 2012 runs came out of shotgun.

NFL Comparison

DeAngelo Williams

Bottom Line

Bernard will have some medical questions to answer after citing discomfort in his knee early this season, but the redshirt sophomore played through the pain, and at a very high level. The Tar Heel may need to thank Larry Fedora for bringing in his offense, as Bernard was able to show off his receiving and pass protection skills.
Grade Title Draft (Round) Description
96-100 Future Hall of Famer Top Pick A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
85-95 Immediate Starter 1st An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
70-84 Eventual Starter 2nd-3rd A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
50-69 Draftable Player 4th-7th A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
20-49 Free Agent UDFA A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.