The expectations for Saquon Barkley were already pretty high coming into this offseason with the New York Giants, and this week, his offensive line didn’t shy away from some bold comparisons.
The second-overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, Barkley is a major piece in the reshaping of the Giants offense. One of the worst rushing attacks in the league over the past couple of years, Barkley’s addition is a boost of talent, especially since he is able to get into the second level with acceleration.
That the Giants upgraded their offensive line this offseason will help things tremendously for Barkley and his ability to hit the ground running — pardon the pun. Left tackle Nate Solder is a big upgrade as is guard Patrick Omameh as well as Will Hernandez, a guard taken by the Giants in the second round.
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Omameh was asked if Barkley’s production could compare with Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (Omameh and Fournette were teammates last year). As a rookie, Fournette rushed for 1,040 yards in helping key the Jaguars to the playoffs.
“Absolutely. I mean, when it comes to offenses, football is a lot of parts that have to work together to have the success that you want, but Saquon is everything that you want in a back,” Omameh said. “It comes down to execution across the board and we feel we can get the results that we’re looking for.”
The addition of Barkley brings badly-needed balance to this team.
The Giants were pass happy as an offense the past few years and perhaps, rightly so. Given that quarterback, Eli Manning has been selected four times to the Pro Bowl and that wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is the best at his position, there has been every reason for this team to emphasize the pass. Factor in wide receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram and this is an offense built to throw the ball.
But bringing Barkley on board, himself a pretty good receiver out of the backfield, and the team will have more balance. Defenses now will have to respect the Giants ability to run the ball, meaning that they simply can’t drop seven back into coverage.
Omameh sees teams needing to account for the Giants ability to run the ball with Barkley as well as veteran Jonathan Stewart in the backfield.
“I guess that really depends on what our threats really are as an offense. Defenses are going to do what they can to try to take away what we do best,” Omameh said. “And if that’s something that we are really hitting home with, is the running game, then we probably are going to have to anticipate a lot of stacked boxes, but I guess time will tell with that. We’re going to see what we’ve got moving forward.”