The New York Giants upgraded their run game by taking Saquon Barkley with the second pick. However, was passing on a quarterback for the future worth it?
The running back position for the New York Giants last season was absolutely abysmal. In 2017, New York finished 26th in team rushing yards with only 1,549. They also only managed 608 receiving yards from running backs.
It was obvious the Giants needed help in a big way. They signed Jonathan Stewart as a strong backup, but they took a huge step forward by drafting the best offensive weapon of the 2018 draftees.
Saquon Barkley was a man amongst boys for most of his college career, and all of it can be attributed to his freakish athleticism. Barkley has a rare ability to start and stop on a dime, unlike any player we had seen since Marshall Faulk and Barry Sanders.
When given just a sliver of space, Barkley can and will make opposing defenses pay.
Barkley also posseses big-time breakaway speed, without sacrificing size. Despite weighing in at 233 pounds, he still flew for a 4.40 40-yard dash. He even put up a breakaway percentage of 56.8% in his last year of school.
However, no prospect is perfect. Barkley struggled at times against big opponents by not taking the lanes that were giving him. At times, a frustrated Barkley tried to turn a two-yard gain into a home run by bouncing it outside. This often resulted in huge losses in the backfield
Barkley needs to be more patient in his rookie year, or NFL defenses will swallow him up behind the line often.
The Giants will be quick to throw Barkley into the mix and feed him the ball as much as possible. Whether its a handoff between the tackles, or a pass is thrown to him out of the slot, you will be hearing his name often on game days.
The key to success for this Giants offensive unit is drawing pressure away from Eli Manning. Manning struggled mightily in the past against defenses that knew he was throwing the ball 62% of the time.
Newly added head coach Pat Shurmur relied heavily on the run in his play calling as offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. In 2017, 47.5% of his plays were designed runs.
Shurmur also contributed heavily to the hot start of Dalvin Cook before he was lost for the year due to injury.
The Giants likely will not run the ball as much as the Vikings did last year. This team is loaded at the wide receiver position and backed by a proven quarterback. Despite this, you should expect plenty of touches for Barkley.
On the stat sheet, Barkley will not put out an All-Pro year just yet, but he will be called upon often enough to boost his numbers. His carry totals by the end of the 2018 season should exceed at least 250, and another 50 targets in the passing game.
A 1,000-yard rushing season, and a 300-yard receiving year will come with it.
If the New York Giants want to go back to their playoff glory, they need to lean on Barkley as much as possible. What Barkley does with this added pressure will determine his success.