New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was effusive last week in his praise of Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, a player the Giants could consider with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
“He’s big, he’s powerful, he can step on the gas, he’s got different levels of speed, he catches the heck out of the ball and he gets the blitz pickup stuff. He’s real,” Gettleman said.
A report on Monday from CBS Sports indicates that at least some other general managers think Gettleman is simply trying to drive up the price tag for teams who want to wrest the second overall selection from the Giants.
How could the Giants not be enamored with the Penn State running back, a potentially dominant player and natural leader with few knocks against him within a few weeks of the draft? But the more they are connected to the player and the more whispers about their intent to select him turn into screams, the more other teams begin to wonder if this is more like a screen. As in smoke screen.
I spoke to several general managers over the weekend who are watching what the Giants do with the second pick very closely, and all believed that while the Giants surely are big fans of Barkley, a trade is highly likely and there could be more going on here than immediately meets the eye. Two GMs wondered if the Giants were maybe pushing the Barkley button hard in order to drum up trade interest among the teams still desperate to get into position to draft a quarterback, like Buffalo or Arizona. Because it’s not like the second-overall pick is the only spot the Giants can land the running back, and it’s not like they don’t have other needs.
“If you are (Giants general manager Dave) Gettleman, you must love all of this Barkley talk,” said one NFC general manager. “I think if he gets his way, he holds an auction for the second pick, drops back a few spots and takes the running back or Bradley Chubb at 5 if everyone is trading up for a quarterback.”
They believe that all the Barkley talk – if it has any genesis from within the Giants organization – has the multi-fold impact of letting teams know the Giants aren’t taking a quarterback, and letting teams know to come talk to them, while at the same time creating a perception that the team is perfectly okay taking Barkley. The Giants have already been selling their fanbase on the narrative – or at least preparing them for the possibility – which gives Gettleman a potential position of strength when soliciting offers for the selection.
“The more I hear about the Giants and Barkley the more I think they are trading down,” the general manager offered.
I have believed for a while now that Chris Canty is right — there is one quarterback the Giants would run to the podium for at No. 2. I believe that would be either Sam Darnold or Josh Allen, and I know those who favor Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield don’t buy that. The info I have gathered, though, leads me to that conclusion.
If the Cleveland Browns take first overall whichever quarterback is the apple of the Giants’ eye, I fully believe the Giants would be open for business at No. 2. The ideal scenario? Move back a few spots, say somewhere in the range of No. 4 to No. 6, collect a couple of additional picks and still be able to select someone from the Barkley, Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson triumvirate.
The wild card? Odell Beckham Jr. trade speculation. If the Giants did decide to trade Beckham, collecting draft picks in exchange, they might be more tempted to stay at No. 2 and take Barkley to help fill the play-making void.