Saquon Barkley is visiting the New York Giants on Sunday. That makes this a good time to debate the positional value of running back, especially as it relates to whether or not the Giants should use the No. 2 pick in the draft on the Penn State star.
You know where I stand. I explained it on Friday when I chose Bradley Chubb over Barkley in the SB Nation writer’s mock draft.
I chose Chubb because of positional value. As good a player as Barkley is, I kept remembering something that former NFL scout and current Scouting Academy Director Dan Hatman said during a recent appearance on ‘Locked on Giants.’
Hatman said that former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi drilled into him that quarterback, left tackle and pass rusher are the three most important things a team must have. If you prioritize positions, running back comes in at or near the bottom of the list.
The absolute best backs in the game today touch the ball between 20 and 25 times per game. With Odell Beckham and Evan Engram on the roster, can the Giants even get the ball to a running back that often? The average career of a running back (2.57 years per Statista) is well below the NFL average, and the other skill positions listed in Statista’s chart. Is that enough to justify taking a back that early?
That running back churn and the idea that so few running backs actually end up being worth a big contract once their rookie ones expire is also a factor.
At the NFL Combine, GM Dave Gettleman scoffed at the notion you can’t take a running back second overall.
“The bottom line is, is the guy a football player? This whole myth of devaluing running backs, I find it kind of comical. At the end of the day, if he’s a great player he’s a great player. It doesn’t matter what position it is,” Gettleman said. “But the other thing, sometimes, listening to Pat (Shurmur), sometimes I think it gets lost in the sauce that football is the ultimate team game. You blow a whistle and 11 guys have to go out there, both offense and defense and special teams. Everybody has to understand that every player is important.
“That’s why when you are looking at the second pick in the draft like we are, the first thing we have to determine is: Is this guy worthy of being the second pick of any draft? Not just this year’s draft, but any draft? And then you make that determination and you move forward. Position? If he’s a great player I don’t care how stacked we are at that position, we’re taking him. It’s all about accumulating talent.”
The Giants have been a team that is a prime example of the ability of NFL teams to find quality backs beyond the first round. Tiki Barber, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw come quickly to mind. In the upcoming draft there are expected to be quality backs available into Day 3.
There is no doubt Barkley would make the Giants better. Is he good enough, though, to pass on a player at a position NFL teams consider to be of higher value?
That’s the question. I have said before that the only truly wrong answer for the Giants at No. 2 would be to have the quarterback they want in their grasp and let him slide by. I will stick with that.
Let the debate continue.
Coaching staff thoughts
After getting a chance to meet some of the Giants assistant coaches on Wednesday, I continue to feel good about the direction in which the Giants are headed.
The Giants don’t gather for the first time in any fashion until Monday’s initial offseason workout. We won’t know anything for certain about how this will all work out until the games are played this fall.
Still, coach after coach has talked about scheme diversity. About figuring out what players can do best and doing that, rather than being married to a single system. About the desire to build a roster full of players who are mature, responsible, dependable.
Here’s offensive line coach Hal Hunter:
“It’s an NFL-type scheme. It’ll be just a mix of everything. It’ll be power offense, it’ll be zone offense, it’ll be drop back passing, it’ll be a variety of different things. You have a lot of different coaches with a lot of different backgrounds, they bring a lot of different things. We have a lot of coaches with a lot of experience. So, I think you bring the experience from all those different things, where we’ve been and all those different places and then you try to pick and choose to put the best thing. I think the most important thing for an offensive line, for an offense, is to fit what you do to the personnel that you have. It’s square peg, square hole. That’s kind of what you need to be.”
Hunter also said this:
“... you want guys that are serious grown men that take this football game really seriously, that are dependable, they’re disciplined, they do the right things on and off the field. If you’re undisciplined in your personal life you’re going to be undisciplined in your football life, and in a critical situation are you going to the right thing? ...
“Quality individuals make a quality team.”
I like it.
We ran a couple of interesting polls this week, so let’s talk about the results.
Should the Giants trade Odell Beckham?
This poll is closed
No — he’s too talented
Yes — he’s too much of a distraction
Doesn’t matter to me — I’m just a fan, let them do what they think is right
What I find interesting is that in our poll only 49 percent (4,455) of the 9.074 voters (yes, that’s a lot of voters!) were in the “no way you can trade Odell!” category. It’s interesting to me not necessarily because of the split, I pretty much anticipated that. It’s interesting because of how loud the “you can’t trade Odell” is and how incredulous that portion of the fan base seems when others disagree.
The poll shows there is obviously a fissure in the fan base when it comes to Beckham’s long-term future with the Giants.
If the Giants choose a quarterback with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, who should it be?
This poll is closed
The second is our “which quarterback should be selected at No. 2?” poll. Sam Darnold gets the most votes, but not a majority. You have to wonder if the poll is impacted by much of the speculation, including from yours truly, that Darnold is the guy the Giants want.