If you have been following Big Blue View for any length of time, you know that choosing running backs high in the draft is something that I have always frowned upon. It is, in fact, one of the tenets of the ‘Big Blue View Rules for Draft Success,’ which incidentally have yet to be updated for this year.
Here is what I wrote last year:
Why no first-round running backs? The NFL game no longer revolves around the running back, that’s the biggest reason. Offenses revolve around the quarterback, the offensive line and the wide receivers. Running backs share the load, with most teams employing two or three and very few dominating the percentage of rushing attempts for his team. Look at offenses, and most of your running backs play fewer snaps than anyone else.
So, unless you believe the player is an instant superstar or the one missing piece to your offense, where is the value in using a first-round selection on a running back who will be on the field less than any member of your offense except the fullback? Historically, there are always plenty of quality running backs available in the middle of the draft. Take one then, and use your first pick on an impact player who should, eventually, play every snap.
“Instant superstar” is the way I put it last year. The way I generally think of it, especially really early in the draft, is that if you are taking a running back with one of the very first picks in the draft he had better be a franchise-changing player.
Well, your New York Giants have the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. You know that. You also know that speculation increasingly has the Giants passing on a quarterback at No. 2 and selecting Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
So, the question. Does Saquon Barkley meet the standard of “franchise-changing player?”
Todd McShay of ESPN answered that in the affirmative during a conference call with media members on Wednesday.
“If you’re committed to the run game, and that’s what you want to be as an organization then it makes sense. …. That’s a big component in all of this. What is your emphasis? If you’re trying to throw the ball around and you’re gonna go 60-40, 70-30 pass to run then I don’t know if it makes sense. But if the Giants want to be a run-first team, and that’s what I’m told the emphasis is, then Barkley makes all the sense in the world because the talent is there. It doesn’t take a super scout to figure out that he’s a highly-talented back,” McShay said.
“You’re getting an every down starter and a player that brings intangibles and leadership and a work ethic that you rarely find in a player who’s your most talented player on the football team. I think he’s a franchise-changing type player.”
Taking it a step further, McShay said he thinks Barkley to the Giants is “inevitable.”
“Ultimately I’ve heard Sam Darnold is the only quarterback they would consider taking at No. 2, and then I’ve heard really strongly that there are important people in that building that believe in Saquon Barkley,” McShay said.
“The Giants want to be a run-first physical football team and that Saquon can basically be the face of that franchise moving forward several years. … If you spend 10 minutes with Saquon you understand that he’s going to be a face of a franchise. He’s so likable, so easy to get along with, great, genuine young man who loves the game and is going to give you everything he’s got every week. It just feels to me like it’s inevitable Saquon Barkley is going to be a New York Giant.”