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Gettleman’s choice: NFL execs argue wisdom of Saquon Barkley selection

NFL executives argue along analytics vs. old school lines

NFL: New York Giants-GM Dave Gettleman Press Conference
Dave Gettleman
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Gettleman, an old-school “see talent, know talent” kind of evaluator, shoved aside analytics and the idea that positional value pushed down the importance of running backs by selecting Saquon Barkley No. 2 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Gettleman’s choice still has the NFL community divided. Some believe he did the right thing, simply selecting the player he thought was the best one regardless of position. Others think value dictates that Gettleman should have chosen a quarterback or defensive end Bradley Chubb and gotten a running back later.

ESPN got NFL executives to anonymously comment on the drafts of all of the NFL’s teams. Here are some of the thoughts presented.

“He has drafted good players.”

“It’s like the left vs. the right in politics where we become these ideologues and zealots. It is not one-sided either way,” an insider said. “Sure, you can mock Gettleman by saying he does not get it, but there is some stuff that Gettleman does get, too. He has drafted good players.”

Positional debate

“The argument for taking Chubb is that they could still get a good back in the second round at 34,” an exec said. “That is the debate. Would you rather have the best pure pass-rusher along with a pretty good back, or would you rather have the best back along with a decent whatever else? I’d take the best pass-rusher with a pretty good back.”

“Gettleman walks on water”

“Gettleman has experience in Carolina in how to help the quarterback,” an exec said. “He has a run-first, protect-Eli, protect-Cam [Newton] strategy that the Giants want to hear. Look at their Super Bowl seasons -- defense and run game. Gettleman walks on water around there when he talks about getting back to the good, old football Giants. If he remakes the team in Tom Coughlin’s image and wins another Super Bowl, it proves Mara and Tisch are pretty smart, and it proves the recipe works.”