If one player is sitting there for the New York Giants in next week’s NFL Draft, then there should be no hesitation in the pick; so says former NFL scout Dan Shonka who says that ‘Big Blue’ should be locked in on one player no matter what quarterback the Cleveland Browns take at No. 1.
By virtue of their 3-13 record last year, the Giants have the advantage of selecting second overall next Thursday night in the first round of the draft. There is plenty of speculation that they could potentially land Sam Darnold with that pick, the USC quarterback landing in a spot where he could be groomed and mentored by incumbent starting quarterback Eli Manning.
But according to Shonka, a former scout for the Philadelphia Eagles as well as several other teams, the pick isn’t a quarterback for the Giants.
“If Saquon Barkley is there the Giants run to the podium with their card. Barkley is a weapon, not just a running back,” Shonka told Metro. “He will lengthen Eli Manning 's career. Barkley is an annual Pro Bowl back, will be one of the top five NFL backs the day he is drafted and has Hall of Fame talent.”
It is a bold move for the Giants on several levels. First, the Giants would be defying conventional wisdom by passing up on a quarterback to develop behind Manning, whose final year of his contract is up in 2019. Also, over the past decade, running backs are rarely taken in the top 10 picks let alone as high as No. 2, signaling that the Giants really think Barley is a future, sure-thing star in the making.
The former Penn State running back is coming off three spectacular years in Happy Valley, showing that he is a solid runner between the tackles, has blow-away speed and is also an asset in the passing game. The Giants, who have been bottom of the NFL the past two seasons in rushing, could use a jolt like this.
Shonka is currently the general manager and national scout for OurLads.com. The scouting site is one of the oldest and most respected resources on the NFL Draft. The report written by Shonka provides a glowing assessment of Barkley:
“To say Barkley is just a running back is to say an AH-64 Apache Longbow Attack weapon is just a helicopter. The ex-Nittany Lion is a one-man arsenal who can tilt the balance of a game. He is a dangerous player who can take away the soft edge of a defense. Has rare speed to turn the corner and barrel up the field in the blink of an eye. Has exceptional vision inside as a gap runner. Talented enough to run around, through, or over the top of a defender. His explosive speed was showcased in the 2017 Rose Bowl where he outran USC speedster and now starting Titan corner Adoree‘ Jackson for a touchdown. Barkley was 44 pounds heavier than Jackson. The dynamic runner has made plays out of nothing for two years. With a volatile offensive line, he earned every yard. He runs the inside zone out of the spread like he invented it. Patient then to and through the crease. Will jump cut as needed.”