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Mel Kiper re-grades Giants 2018 draft, re-opens Saquon Barkley-Sam Darnold debate

Thanks, Mel!

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Mel Kiper just had to go THERE, didn’t he? In re-grading the drafts all 32 NFL teams [subscription only], when Kiper got to the New York Giants he gave Dave Gettleman’s 2018 draft a ‘B.’ And he re-opened the Saquon Barkley vs. Sam Darnold debate.

This debate, superstar running back vs. franchise quarterback of the future, has never really gone away. It likely won’t go away until and unless Gettleman is able to find a young franchise quarterback to pair with Barkley.

Here is part of what Kiper wrote:

A year later, I still would have gone with quarterback Sam Darnold with the No. 2 overall pick. Saquon Barkley is obviously a great player -- he finished his rookie season with 1,307 rushing yards, 721 receiving yards and 15 total touchdowns -- but just look where the Giants are this offseason. Eli Manning is 38 and coming off another so-so year, and there’s no quarterback of the future on the roster. Odell Beckham Jr. is gone. Barkley is likely going to get 300 touches in a rebuilding 2019 season, and New York will be right back to drafting in the top 10 in 2020. Teams can get value with running backs on Days 2 and 3, which is why it’s tough to justify taking a back in the top five, no matter how good he is.

As I wrote last April, “you can love the player but question the pick.” Barkley is a superstar. But New York still went 5-11, and I don’t see things getting better in 2019.

Valentine’s View: Kiper has put it about as well as possible by saying “you can love the player, but question the pick.” Barkley is phenomenal. Everyone knows that. He’s a great person. Everyone knows that, too. The Giants, though, still need a franchise quarterback, they had a gimme opportunity to get one a year ago and they passed. Gettleman’s plan for the Giants, whatever exactly it is, hinges on finding a guy roughly as good as Darnold to pair with Barkley. Everyone also knows that.

I certainly can’t blame the Giants for what they did, and I enjoy watching Barkley as much as anyone. Is it ever really wrong to pass on the best player in a draft class? Still, if the Giants don’t properly identify an heir to Manning soon they risk wasting the best years of Barkley’s career.