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Mike Mayock predicts Giants will select Saquon Barkley

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NFL Network analyst says his “gut” tells him Penn State star will be a Giant

NCAA Football: Penn State Pro Day
Saquon Barkley
Eric Firestine-USA TODAY Sports

Count NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock among those who believe that Saquon Barkley is going to become a member of the New York Giants when the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is announced Thursday night.

“ ... my gut tells me that at 1, Cleveland will take Sam Darnold, and my gut tells me with the Giants, Gettleman likes to stay in his lane. You know he hasn’t moved down before,” Mayock said during a pre-draft conference call.

“If he moves down -- by the way, I think the draft starts at No. 2 with the Giants and whatever they decide to do. So here’s -- let me put it this way with Gettleman and the Giants: If they fall in love with the quarterback who they think is their franchise guy for the next ten years, that has to trump everything else regardless of fans that want Barkley or whatever, and you have to take your quarterback.

“However, if you have any concern whatsoever, there are three great position players there, or you can trade down. And I think the furthest he would be willing to trade down would be 6, which is where Indy is, because if he went to 6, and quarterbacks now go 1, 2, and 3, he’s still going to get Chubb, Barkley, or Nelson. So I don’t think he’s going past 6, and if he stays at 2, as much as he likes his hog molly, I still think that Barkley will be the guy.”

About the quarterbacks

Mayock summarized the top of the quarterback class this way:

“I think people were so anticipating this class that it surprises people when we start to kind of pick our way through them and really grind the tape.

“To put it in perspective, the two easiest quarterback evaluations I’ve had in the last eight or ten years are Andrew Luck and Carson Wentz, and that’s because everything checked off both on the film and all the intangibles. Those two guys walked and talked like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, et cetera. I don’t see anybody in this class that I get the same gut feel for as those two.

“Darnold is my number one guy because I think he can beat you from both inside the pocket and outside the pocket, but after him, I feel like you can kind of pick apart different characteristics of each player.

“Real quickly, when I look at Allen from Wyoming, biggest upside in the Draft, really exciting player, obviously has to learn how to be a little bit more accurate, and he’s got to throw with timing and anticipation.

Josh Rosen, the most natural thrower in the Draft, but he reminds me of Sam Bradford, both because they throw the ball naturally, but also the question about durability. Rosen’s been hurt in college. He has an inability to protect himself in the pocket. He’s a tough kid, but he gets hurt a lot. I don’t know if he can survive in the NFL pocket for prolonged periods of time.

“Mayfield, it seems to me like some teams love him and some teams just kind of go that’s not my cup of tea. The film’s good, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to make a decision in your building about who you want being the face of your franchise. And he’s really cut both ways for a lot of teams.

“The guy I’m most excited about is Lamar Jackson. He’s the most exciting athlete in the Draft. I think somebody in the first round is going to make a philosophical and schematic commitment to this kid and change what they do offensively. And it might not be this year where he makes a significant move, but I think long term, I can’t wait to see what Lamar Jackson becomes.

“So when you look at those five kids, history tells you we’ll be lucky if we get two to three that become franchise quarterbacks.”