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How did Pro Football Focus feel about the Giants’ draft class?

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PFF analysts still not sold on Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall

NFL: NFL Draft Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

We’re barely a week removed from the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and we’re still in prime review time for the draft class. Pro Football Focus put out a video breaking down some thoughts on all of the Giants’ picks.

Much of the talk about Saquon Barkley revolved around the value of a running back as the second overall pick. This statement was made quite early:

“Every number we have says that no matter how good Saquon Barkley is, he is not as valuable as a quarterback.”

They followed up with another look at where running backs fall in positional value:

“We’ve been digging into expected points added and wins above replacement for all positions in the NFL and the bottom line is it’s all about the passing game… and even within that it’s quarterbacks first by a distance. No other position can come close to quarterbacks when it comes to value. After that it’s coverage. Running backs are way down the list and even when it comes to running backs it’s all about what those guys can do as receivers. At least to the Giants’ credit, they understand that.”

On Barkley’s ability as a receiver:

“That is what Saquon Barkley is special at. That is why he was our No. 1 back in this draft despite not being the best pure ball carrier between the tackles. That’s not what his strength is. His true strength is what he can do as a receiver and he can me a true mismatch, matchup nightmare against linebackers and safeties.”

On Barkley as a runner:

“He’s a run to daylight kind of player. He doesn’t want to take three yards if that’s all that’s there. For a 233 pound back, he is looking for space the entire time. If the hole in the middle of the offensive line is muddy, he’s going to try to bounce it outside, he’s going to try to turn that into 20 yards and sometimes that works… the problem is sometimes it does cause him to lose yardage and lose less than what is there.”

They loved the Will Hernandez pick in the second round and noted it made sense in the overall plan with Barkley in the first round. PFF had him rated as a top-20 overall player and the No. 2 guard behind Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson, who went sixth overall to the Indianapolis Colts.

The thought of placing Hernandez next to Nate Solder on the left side of the offensive line was also something they were quite high on:

“That has a chance to be the best double-team block in the NFL this next season.”

But there was also an emphasis on his pass blocking, which even at guard should be considered the more important aspect. Luckily, Hernandez was rather good there too:

“The last two years at UTEP he was No. 1 in the nation in pass blocking efficiency… allowed only four pressures over the two year period.”

Third-round pick Lorenzo Carter was billed as a bit of a project, who was a good value where he was taken:

“On one hand it fits with what the Giants are trying to do with a hybrid scheme… the problem there is he’s never really been a dominant edge rusher. It’s ok grabbing him in the third. He’s an excellent athlete, projection-type player, but there was some first and second round hype for him that we really never bought into.”

Perhaps the most interesting analysis in the video was how high they were on fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta. Here’s a few excerpts on their breakdown of the former Richmond passer.

“They could have found their future with this guy. He was out seventh-ranked quarterback. Some of us wanted to make him our sixth-ranked quarterback… push him ahead of Josh Allen… a player we thought could be picked early in the second round… this could be the quarterback that saves the draft class for the Giants.”

...

“He’s kind of a poor man’s Sam Darnold in where his strengths lie. He doesn’t have a great arm, but his strengths lie throwing the ball over the middle of the field, throwing with anticipation — that’s a Darnold strength — but coming into the season our scouting report on Darnold said ‘deep ball, that’s an issue, he needs to work on it’ and that’s Lauletta. He’s the No. 1 graded quarterback at the intermediate level… but the deep ball was terrible. It was one of the worst in the entire draft class.”

...

“When we compare him to Davis Webb, he’s higher. He was higher on our board than we had Davis Webb last year.”

The full video can be found below: