2019 training camp is still months away for the New York Giants — not to mention the rest of the NFL. We are solidly in the Dog Days Of Summer, and that means we are also in List Season.
The NFL Network will be leading the way with their annual Top 100 list, but other outlets will be listing and ranking players as well. Pro Football Focus is chiming in early with their list of the Top 50 NFL players entering the 2019 season.
Second year running back Saquon Barkley is the only (current) Giant to make the list, coming in at 43rd.
43. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
We’ve already seen enough from Barkley to slot him at No. 43 on this list. His 85.9 overall grade, 84.6 rushing grade and 86.4 receiving grade all rank inside the top-five among qualifying rookie running backs in the PFF era (2006-18). Looking specifically at his pass-catching ability, Barkley caught more passes (91), gained more yards after the catch (787) and forced more missed tackles on receptions than any rookie running back since 2006.
And all signs point to Barkley being much more than a one-year wonder. He earned 81.0-plus overall grades in all three years at Penn State (2015-17) and logged 80.0-plus receiving grade in his last two collegiate seasons.
Raptor’s Thoughts: Folks will have an issue with Barkley being so low on the list. However, we have to remember that he has only been in the NFL for one season and doesn’t have a track record at this level. Barkley’s ranking will likely climb quickly as long as he can stay healthy.
One thing to note is that PFF points out that Barkley had 787 yards after the catch, not to mention how many forced tackles he missed. However, Barkley only had 721 receiving yards on the season because his average depth of target was behind the line of scrimmage. It’s something we have mentioned a few times, but one of the best things the Giants could do for Barkley would be to get him the ball beyond the line of scrimmage. Simply doing that could cause his productiveness to explode and make him not just a dangerous weapon, but an even more consistently dangerous weapon.
Barkley will be the focus of the Giants offense throughout the 2019 season, should have better blocking, and will have plenty of opportunities to build on his spectacular 2018 season. We should definitely be looking for Barkley to rise in the rankings after his second season.