Saquon Barkley: The Impeccable
Last night I was hoping the Giants would draft Sam Darnold, and when Cleveland passed on him, I thought the stars had aligned for the Giants to obtain Eli’s Successor. But we didn’t pick Darnold, or any quarterback at all. We picked Saquon Barkley, the Running Back from Penn State that many deemed as the most athletic player in the draft. The NFL itself had him on top of their personal prospect board, and gave him the highest rank of any player in any position in the draft, with a grade 7.45. Pay no attention to the fact that 7.45 seems low for a score out of 10, as according to NFL.com, a 7.45 warrants him as a ‘Pro Bowl-Caliber’ player (to get an 8 or above you essentially have to be Jesus).
Of all the positions, there is always a stigma with drafting a Running Back so early, due to the fact that they have the shortest half-lives of any position in football. And with Eli looking like a shell of his former self, as well as a non-existent offensive line, there were many other reasons to not draft Barkley. Popular opinion amongst Giants fans suggest that Eli needs to be replaced, kinda… around… NOW. Others speculated, why pick an elite Running Back when you have no Offensive Line to make holes for him to run through?
However, despite all of these issues, doubts and fears, there is one simple reason why drafting Saquon Barkley last night was the best thing for the Giants- and that reason was simple: Perfection. There hasn’t been a draft in recent memory (at least in my memory) where a player has demonstrated this type of transcendence over his class. And that’s as much of a complement to Barkley’s God-gifted talent as it is a poor reflection on the rest of the players in the field. If you haven’t noticed, you will notice from now, through training camp and onto the season, that there are so many players in this year’s draft that are sheer question marks. They do one thing well, and another thing horribly. Some of them, like Baker Mayfield, win Heismans and on the other hand, have arrests amongst a spectrum of character flaws. Others, like Sam Darnold, have NFL size and superior arm strength, but can’t stop turning over the ball to the other team.
Unlike players like Mayfield and Darnold who were projected to get drafted before Barkley on many mock drafts (Mayfield actually did), it would be more accurate to describe Barkley as an exclamation point than a question mark. He’s put up 3,801 total yards between rushing and receiving in the past two years and 45 touchdowns. He ran a 4.4 40, can power clean 405 pounds, and has a vertical of 41 inches. And he can do all of this at the compact size of 6-foot and 230 pounds. It’s as if he was made in a lab. He’s also a dual threat, but not in a mediocre-at-both-rushing-and-receiving-like-Reggie-Bush-kinda-way. He is a truly great receiver, leading the Big 10 early-on in the 2017 season in receiving. You read that correctly, through September of 2017, the receiving leader of the Big 10 wasn’t even a receiver, it was Saquon Barkley. It is freakish things like this, that have had one anonymous NFL assistant coach elaborate to sports journalist Mike Freeman so articulately the depths he would go to have Barkley on the roster, “I would punch myself in the nuts many, many, many times to be able to draft him.”
As far as a more complete player at their position in this draft then Saquon Barkley? There are none. We should save an honorable mention for a DE from North Carolina State that goes by the name Bradley Chubb (you may have heard of him, he’s kinda decent), because he is the closest one besides Barkley to being a complete player.
I’m glad the Giants did what I initially didn’t want them to. Will Eli still suck next year? Probably. But, I don’t have solid proof that the QBs drafted early last night don’t suck as well. There were no Andrew Lucks, or Matt Staffords or hell, even young Eli’s drafted last night. Actually, the more I think about it, the less confident I am with any of these first round Quarterbacks, and my guess is that neither Mayfield, Darnold or Allen will become Franchise QBs.
The thing is, every reason brought forth for the Giants not to draft Saquon Barkley, is either because of the team or the position, but not a critique of the man himself. In a weird year, where first-round players in the draft juxtapose their raw talent with alarming defects in their play and/or character, Barkley is the only one without flaw. You could argue the Giants should have rolled the dice on a Quarterback. You can argue that Running Backs burn-out quickly in this league, but you cannot critique Barkley’s game. He is the closest thing to complete, although everyone is a work in progress. He’s the closest thing to perfection, although there is no such thing.