Is Barkley the Best Option For Giants at No. 2?

Don’t count out the New York Giants from taking a running back in the first round, so says general manager Dave Gettleman on Wednesday.

Gettleman talked about the importance of evaluating a player and not necessarily the position, delving into the trend of teams avoiding taking a running back early in the draft.

The last time a running back was taken first overall in the NFL Draft was Ki-Jana Carter, the Penn State standout tailback who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995. Since then, not only has a running back not been taken No. 1 overall, the number of running backs taken in the top-10 has plummeted.

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Now, it appears that it could be another Penn State running back, Saquon Barkley, who could be the highest running back taken since 1995.

COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 28: Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown during first quarter game action between the Penn State Nittany Lions (2) and the Ohio State Buckeyes (6) on October 28, 2017 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

The addition of a player like Barkley (who is the Giants pick in my recently released MSG Mock Draft 1.0) would benefit the entire offense. He’s a workhorse, built to handle a high number of carries.

He is also a reliable receiving option out of the backfield, something that could certainly work in head coach Pat Shurmur’s offense. The Giants hold the No. 2 pick in April’s NFL Draft.

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“The bottom line is: is the guy a football player? This whole myth of devaluing running backs, I find it kind of comical. At the end of the day, if he’s a great player, he’s a great player. It doesn’t matter what position he is,” Gettleman said from the NFL Combine Wednesday.

“The other thing, listening to Pat, sometimes I think it gets lost that football is the ultimate team game. You blow the whistle, 11 guys have to go out there. Offense, defense and special teams. Everyone has to understand that every player is important. That is why when you are looking at the second pick of the draft, which we are, the first thing we have to determine is, is this guy worthy of being the second pick of any draft?

“Not just this year’s draft, or any draft. You make that determination and you move forward … If he’s a great player, I don’t care how stacked we are at the position, we are taking him. It is all about accumulating talent,” Gettleman added.

Barkley certainly is the most intriguing pick for the Giants at second overall, even as many other mock drafts continue to have the Giants going with a quarterback in the first round. Barkley was a Heisman candidate during his junior season at Penn State.

For Gettleman, who spent extensive time in the Giants system before being the general manager of the Carolina Panthers, is in the fact-finding and evaluation stage of the draft process. What to do with the second pick, he claims, is still to be formulated and determined.

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“We had our meetings in February. We went through the first time. Now, we are gathering information. We get to the draft in April. We will add all the new information and then we have this crazy thing called a discussion,” Gettleman said.

“Pat is involved, obviously, very involved in the draft. At the end of the day, I believe in collaboration. I believe in communication. Everyone in that room is going to say their piece. Then, it falls on me to make a decision. I have no preconceived notion. I just don’t.”