Being drafted No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft comes with expectations, but usually no one expects the draftee to step in and be one of the best at your position in your first year. Well, when it comes to Giants’ rookie running back Saquon Barkley, that is exactly what people are expecting.
Hall-of-Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson recently came out with his projections for running backs he thinks will break out this year on NFL.com. Tomlinson had Barkley at the top of the list, projecting him to rush for 1,300-1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie season. He followed it up with this explanation.
This kid was ready-made for the NFL and he’s part of an organization with the Giants where he’ll get almost all of the touches in the run game. New head coach Pat Shurmur will find ways to get the ball to Barkley, who can generate yards in a lot of different ways, including in the return game. A healthy Odell Beckham Jr. is as dynamic as they come, and fortunately for the rookie, he’ll keep Barkley from facing an eight-man box.
There’s a lot of pressure on Barkley. I know because I was in the same position when the Chargers selected me No. 5 overall in the 2001 draft. The competition level is an adjustment, but Barkley is used to having his name circled by opposing teams. He was the center of Penn State’s offense, much like I was at TCU, so he should be able to handle that pressure since he’s been in that position for years.
While it is great to see players and coaches around the league giving Barkley respect, the expectations and pressures on him continue to rise. While I believe that he is up to the task, it will be interesting to see if he lives up to all of the hype.