I was scrolling through Twitter Wednesday when I came across the report from Todd McShay that many of you have seen in the last 48 hours. Here is the tweet that I saw:
ESPN analyst Todd McShay, on a conference call, says he believes it is “inevitable” that Saquon Barkley will be a New York Giant.
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) April 18, 2018
This tweet, about Saquon Barkley to the Giants being “inevitable,” sparked a Twitter explosion between NFL Draft writers, many of them calling Giants GM Dave Gettleman insane. The majority of these writers think that the Giants should take a quarterback. Eli Manning is 37 years old, and how many times are you going to pick second in a draft where four quarterbacks are going to go in the top five? Sure, I understand the argument, but the right pick for the Giants isn’t a quarterback; it’s Saquon Barkley.
Let’s jump into the reasons why Saquon is the right pick for the New York Giants…
I’m fully expecting the Browns to take Sam Darnold at the first overall pick. In fact, I’d give it a 90% chance that he goes number one. Darnold is by far the best quarterback in this draft. The last game that NFL Draft prospects play in college is the first memory that comes to people’s minds when evaluating a player. Darnold wasn’t great in that game, the Cotton Bowl vs. Ohio State where USC lost 24-7, and he threw more pick-sixes than touchdowns. However, this is one of the only bad games that Darnold had in college. If he is there for the Giants at pick two, then Dave Gettleman should heavily consider him. Let’s play this game assuming Darnold is off the board at pick two.
Saquon Barkley is a generational talent. His combination of speed, power, and freak-athleticism is something that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. The man has 4.3 speed, combined with legs that can pull a truck. In addition, his elusiveness and ability to evade defenders with his two-yard sideways juke (or 41 inch vertical hurdle) is one-of-a-kind. He’s the type of guy that will carry the ball 26 times per game for you, with a few receptions too. Did I mention his ability as a pass-catcher?
The ability to stop and go in a split second, the one-handed catch, the speed. Reminder: Saquon Barkley’s a freaking running back. pic.twitter.com/8XrQnyPVc1
— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) September 30, 2017
Saquon Barkley is that player that is going to be in Canton wearing a gold jacket in 20 years. In addition, he’s someone that you never have to worry about as a distraction. He’s not a problem off the field, and is a guy who will be able to handle any question that comes at him from the New York media. He has all the tools, on the field and off the field, to be one of the faces of New York sports.
“But a quarterback! But a quarterback! But a quarterback!” – All the anti-Saquon-Giants people.
Let’s get to the reasons I wouldn’t take a quarterback if I’m the Giants. Assuming Darnold is gone, you have three guys sitting on the board who all have question marks next to their name. Let’s start with Josh Rosen. This is a guy who seems to have all the tools to be an NFL quarterback: the arm strength, the size, the footwork. However, many scouts and GMs seem to have an issue with his attitude. I’ve seen reports about Rosen being called “uncoachable” and a “prick.” No matter how good a guy is, most NFL teams aren’t going to want to deal with that.
The next quarterback I want to discuss is Josh Allen. Scouts love Allen because of his arm strength, his size, and his awareness in the pocket. The guy could throw a ball 80 yards down the field. However, there’s no doubt that he’s a project. Allen is an extremely inaccurate passer, as his completion percentage was only 56% in 2016 and 2017 at Wyoming. A completion percentage of 56% would have ranked in the 30s out of the quarterbacks in the NFL in 2017.
Against Power-Five opponents in his career (Nebraska, Iowa, and Oregon), Allen has failed to throw for over 200 yards in any of them. In those games, he threw for only 1 touchdown, and 8 interceptions. I understand that stats don’t tell the whole story, but Josh Allen is a huge risk.
The final quarterback that would potentially be in conversation here is Baker Mayfield. While I think that there is less than a 1% chance that the Giants take Baker Mayfield, scouts around the league have been raving about him. Baker is a winner. It’s that simple. In addition, he was easily one of the most accurate passers in college football. His completion percentage was over 70% the last two years, and he was also Pro Football Focus’s top rated quarterback.
However, Baker Mayfield played in a conference where there is essentially no defense played, and his size and arm strength isn’t comparable to the other quarterbacks that I’ve previously spoken about. Not every quarterback that’s approximately 6 feet tall is going to turn into Drew Brees or Russell Wilson. That’s a very hard thing to do at the next level. If I’m the Giants, I’m not rolling the dice on Baker.
— Fanatics View (@fanaticsview) September 24, 2017
Let’s bring this back to Saquon Barkley. There’s no reason to take a risk on one of these three quarterbacks I just mentioned when you have a surefire star prospect like Saquon Barkley. Despite the narrative, running backs could change teams. Todd Gurley ran for 1,305 yards, and 13 touchdowns last season, and the Rams went 11-5. In 2016, Ezekiel Elliot rushed for over 1600 yards and 15 touchdowns, and the Cowboys went 13-3. Look at what Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram brought to the Saints this year.
Saquon Barkley would change the whole dynamic of this Giants offense. I would say that you could get 2-3 good years left out of Eli Manning. However, there’s only two ways that that can happen. One is if the offensive line is improved (Giants have pick 34, and 66, as well as two fourth round selections to do this). The second, is if there’s a dominant running back that can take a lot of pressure off of Eli. If Paul Perkins and Jonathan Stewart are running the ball for the Giants, that’s not going to cut it. You can make an argument that Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are going to extend Drew Brees’ career by a couple of years.
Going back to the fact that Eli Manning is 37, okay sure. He’s 37 years old, but he’s never suffered a major injury. Tony Romo was 35 years old and completely beaten up when the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliot at pick #4. That seemed to work out just fine for Dallas. People are acting like this is the last time in their franchise history that the Giants could take a quarterback. There’s next year’s draft, and the year after, and the year after.
If the Giants really need a quarterback next year, then they’ll have a high draft pick again to show for it. If that draft pick is not high enough, you trade up to make it happen like the Eagles and Rams did. This is NOT the final opportunity the Giants have to get a quarterback of the future.
We’ll see what happens on Thursday night, but I’m telling you that Saquon Barkley is the right pick for the New York Giants. If you’re not sold on any of the quarterbacks, don’t force it, and take the best player available. That best player available, is Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.