'Tis the season for a never-ending stream of mock drafts. For the most part we try to limit ourselves to reporting the general trend in the drafts, but don't relay every single one.
We make exceptions, however, for the "big name" mocks from the major outlets. Out thought process is that people like ESPN'S Mel Kiper Jr. are well connected throughout the league and could give insight into the general feelings around the NFL. So, we are reporting on Mel Kiper's second mock draft.
The New York Giants have been even more tight-lipped than usual throughout their off-season, leading to many failed predictions regarding who their next head coach would be, and who would be on his staff.
So we shouldn't read too much into Kiper's pick for the Giants, but this is an opportunity to discuss a different pick.
2. New York Giants
*Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Do the Giants take a quarterback or the best prospect available? They don’t have quite as many needs as the Browns, and they won 11 games two seasons ago. New York has some talent. I went with Josh Rosen in Mock Draft 1.0, but Barkley is the top-ranked player on my Big Board. If the Giants can add Barkley to a group that includes Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, that would be rare skill-position talent. Barkley is more than a great runner -- he is a stellar receiver (he caught 54 passes in 2017) and pass-blocker. Eli Manning should be more efficient with these weapons around him, and the Giants can use another year of evaluation to figure out if 2017 third-round pick Davis Webb is the heir apparent.
That was my first reaction when I saw that, with Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen both on the board (Kiper has the Browns taking Josh Allen first overall), the Giants passed.
It is nice to see a national figure recognize that the Giant’s aren’t untalented, but badly under-performed under Ben McAdoo. It’s also interesting to see Kiper want to give Davis Webb a chance to show that he can, in fact, be The Guy. Much has been made of the fact that the previous regime never got Webb on the field, but along the way it has been forgotten that he was never supposed to get on the field as a rookie. He was drafted with the same idea as drafting a Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, or Josh Allen would be this year: A raw quarterback with all the tools to be a franchise player, but in need of time to polish his skills and learn the game at the Pro level.
Now, on to the pick that was made, Saquon Barkley.
He is as “clean” a prospect as we have seen come out in years. He has a sky-high work ethic and character, impressive production, game-breaking ability, and legitimately freakish athleticism.
But, how can a team justify taking a running back at second overall? Well, to me, Saquon Barkley isn’t a “running back.” That might be the position he plays, but he is as dangerous as a receiver and a returner as he is as a runner, and he is already an excellent pass blocker.
Let’s be frank here: The Giants are a team that hasn’t scored 30 points in a game in two years. Their offense has been broken and dependent on Odell Beckham making game-breaking plays for much longer than that — if we’re being completely honest, long before Beckham was even drafted. Barkley was second in all of college football in total yards in 2017, and scored 45 total touchdowns with 4,301 yards over the last two seasons.
He is a weapon no matter what you call him, and would give the Giants a nightmare match-up at the wide receiver, tight end, and running back position.
Assuming they are able to sort out their offensive line with the rest of their off-season (free agency and the rest of the draft), adding Barkley to the offense would create an environment where the Giants wouldn’t need “Bad Eli” to press and try and force a play where nobody can make one, and an ideal environment in which a young quarterback (potentially Webb, in this case) could thrive.
Now, for those who have read this far: I’m not advocating for Barkley over one of the quarterbacks. I’m just saying that the pick DOES make a certain amount of sense if the Giants decide that they want to find out if they already have a young franchise QB already on the roster.