The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine is in the rearview mirror, which means that it’s time for a whole new round of mock drafts in light of the new information. Not only do we have hundreds — thousands — of new data points in regards to this year’s draft prospects, but news, rumors, and smokescreens are bandied about freely at the scouting combine.
Since the Combine there has been a noticeable shift in the mock drafts regarding the New York Giants, and we have started to see some variety in the selections. Let’s take a look at Todd McShay’s Mock Draft 3.0 and see if we can make sense of it.
2. New York Giants
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State*
The Giants could go a lot of different directions here. If they are really looking to win now with Eli Manning at QB, then they should take the best player in the draft, Barkley. Give Manning a running game and a little more pass protection (via free agency or later in the draft) and Giants fans would argue they are a playoff team. Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson are in play here as well. And New York could also get a sweet offer to move back for a team looking to jump up and take a QB.
Raptor’s Take: Depending on what happens between now and April 26th, I would have a very hard time arguing this selection. But as we stand on the 7th of March, it is one hell of a loaded pick that needs to be unpacked.
There are really two questions that need to be answered with respect to this pick.
First and foremost, “what about a quarterback for the future?” and second “is a running back really worth the number two overall selection?”
To the first question, we have to realize that there are questions regarding all of the top quarterbacks available (the Cleveland Browns selected QB Sam Darnold of USC first overall).
Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen are developmental prospects, with the weight of history suggesting the latter is more likely to become Jake Locker than Carson Wentz. Josh Rosen both have strong, polarizing personalities as well as physical concerns — injuries for Rosen and height for Mayfield.
Also, there is the often disregarded elephant in the room: Davis Webb. Yes, he was a “McAdoo and Reese guy”, but that doesn’t preclude him from also being a “Shurmur and Gettleman guy” as well. It’s entirely possible that men from similar backgrounds (west coast offense for Shurmur and McAdoo, and the Giants’ scouting tradition for Reese and Gettleman) to like the same guy.
That also discounts Webb himself. He is regarded as having an “obsessive” work ethic, as well as physical tools — arm strength and athleticism — to stand with any of the top prospects in this draft class. He had similar developmental concerns with regards to mechanical consistency as Darnold, Jackson, and Allen, and is already getting the NFL development prescribed for them, but on a much smaller contract.
The question we have to ask, but only Gettleman and Shurmur can answer is “Why NOT Webb?” And while the accepted wisdom is that Webb shouldn’t keep the Giants from drafting a franchise quarterback, what if they honestly believe he is a future franchise QB? Wouldn’t they be remiss if they didn’t build the best possible environment for him to succeed?
Which brings us to the second question: Is it a good use of resources to spend the second overall selection on Saquon Barkley?
That depends on how you view Barkley. Is he just a running back?
My argument all season long has been that he is much more. He is an explosive rusher who can make defenders miss in a phone booth, and then break away with 4.3 speed (yes, his official time was 4.40, but remember, he stumbled on his fastest run. He’s faster than that). But he has also put real work into being a good pass catcher and route runner who can play out of the backfield or split out wide, and be that same explosive playmaker as a receiver. He also brings significant upside as a returner, and pass protects as well as anyone.
Barkley’s upside is something on the order of a bigger, more athletic LaDainian Tomlinson — a player who finished his career with more than 18,000 yards and 160 touchdowns. Combined with the hyper-athletic match-up nightmares that are Odell Beckham Jr. and Evan Engram, the Giants offense would be an environment to get the most out of Eli Manning’s twilight years and potentially a paradise for Webb if they do believe he can be a franchise player.
In reverse order, I would say that yes, Barkley’s versatility and upside make him significantly more than just a running back and worth the pick. We can’t know the answer to whether or not it is the right decision to pass on a QB. Those of us on the outside can only be open-minded and trust Gettleman and Shurmur that Webb is The Guy.