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Why the Giants selected Saquon Barkley

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Did the Giants make the right move in selecting the Penn State running back?

NFL: NFL Draft Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have made their first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and as pretty much everyone suspected, it was Saquon Barkley.

The selection of Barkley is one of the safest moves the Giants could have made, as well as one of the riskiest.

On one hand, Barkley is one of the cleanest players in the draft. He is widely regarded as a young man with high character and a great work ethic. As an athlete, he has prototypical size and legitimately freakish speed, agility, explosiveness, and power. He is a home run threat as a runner, receiver, and as a returner. Barkley combines rare quickness with 4.3 speed (he stumbled in his 4.40 run at the NFL scouting combine), and the power to run through arm tackles. As well, he is a polished receiver with natural hands and solid route running, and the ability to be a receiver out of the backfield as well as in the slot or out wide.

The Giants’ offensive line is a work in progress, but that is nothing new for Barkley, who was second in the NCAA in total yardage despite frequently having to avoid defenders in the backfield.

Finally, Barkley is a polished pass protector, who uses his impressive strength to hold up as well as some offensive linemen, and better than some in the NFL.

Put simply, the combination of Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley give the Giants one of the most dangerous, dynamic, and flexible collection of skill position players in the NFL.

But on the other hand, the Giants are obviously passing on a top quarterback option at the top of the draft, and that is a risk — a potentially huge one.

Nobody beats Father Time, and Eli Manning will eventually lose that fight. Eventually the Giants will be living Life After Eli, and as it stands now, they will be looking to Davis Webb to grow into the role of their franchise quarterback.

The Giants could still draft a quarterback on the second day of the draft, such as Mason Rudolph or Kyle Lauletta, to compete with Webb. However, they are seen as (much) less “sure things” than one of the top quarterbacks.

Whether or not Barkley is a good pick and the best use of the Giants’ resources remains to be seen. Mark Schofield, quarterback guru for Inside The Pylon and friend of Big Blue View told Ed Valentine that he believes that Eli Manning still has another three to four years of high-quality, competitive football ahead of him.

If so, or if Webb develops into a the Giants’ next franchise quarterback, Barkley isn’t a bad pick.

He is the most explosive weapon in the draft and adds a dimension to the Giants’ offense it hasn’t had since Tiki Barber — if ever. And with Beckham, Shepard, and Engram gives Webb an incredibly quarterback-friendly environment in which to develop.

If Eli cannot return to form and Webb can’t reach the ceiling his tools suggest, then the Giants might have sacrificed their future for one last gasp at glory.