The NFL Combine is that glorified experience of trying to create a level playing field for draft hopefuls who played at varying levels of competition in college. What can be learned from it is often overstated.
But that won’t stop us from trying.
As such, the New York Giants and the New York Jets surely had some takeaways from the past few days. Here are ours:
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Barkley is the pick at No. 2
There is plenty of chatter about the risk of taking a running back at No. 2 but look at the impact Ezekiel Elliott had on the Dallas Cowboys two years when he was the fourth player taken in the draft. And Barkley is arguably as good if not better than Elliott when he was selected in 2016.
Not only would Barkley help a rushing offense that was among the worst in the league the past several seasons but he would also balance an offense that has been pass-centric over the past two years. This is important for preserving the longevity of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and quarterback Eli Manning.
Don’t understate the excitement value either. After his past two years at Penn State and now this weekend’s NFL Combine, there is lots of buzz about Barkley. It shouldn’t be the sole reason he is taken, in fact it shouldn’t factor in at all. But for a fanbase coming off a season with the most losses in franchise history, Barkley would be exciting and rejuvenating.
Lots of options for the Jets
What’s not to love about the position the Jets are in right now? They could be close to $100 million in salary cap space by the time free agency hits. In addition, they hold the sixth pick.
If the Jets settle their quarterback situation via free agency, then the sixth pick could well be the icing on top of the cake for this team. They could add to their defense with a legit pass rusher or augment their offense and what surely will be an offseason spent upgrading their ability to move the ball.
They also could trade back, something that just might be the best fit. Say the Jets sign a sure-thing starter at quarterback in free agency and don’t have a true, pressing need. Given the uncertainty atop the draft this year, a quarterback that one team craves might fall that deep into the draft. In fact, it most likely will.
The Jets, with their roster largely settled and a quarterback added in free agency, might be able to trade back and get multiple picks. It wouldn’t be an exciting move but this team could use some more depth on both sides of the ball. It makes a lot of sense and the Combine is helping to create a lot of ebb and flow to the top of this draft.
The Jets might be able to benefit from this if they take care of business in free agency.
The Jersey guys stood out
There is a certain level of excitement when a player with local ties ends up on the Giants or the Jets. The Combine showcased a handful of players whose performances backed up the hype.
In some cases, these Jersey guys raised their stock.
Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki showed athleticism that coupled with his production in the Big Ten see him now as a sure thing Day 2 pick. Rutgers defensive end Kemoko Turay ran a 4.66 time in the 40 and is coming off a strong Senior Bowl. Alabama cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick is a likely top-five selection and did nothing to hurt himself at the Combine.
And there is guard Quenton Nelson, another Jersey guy who showed well at the Combine and backed up his tape from Notre Dame. If he’s there at No. 6, he could be an interesting pick for the Jets.