By: Brendan Schick
The New York Giants selected Penn State RB Saquon Barkley with the second pick of the 2018 NFL Draft with the expectation that he will immediately take over as the RB1 on a team that has, historically, lacked a true star running back. Realistically, the last feature running back the Giants employed was Tiki Barber! Say what you want about the thunder and lightning combination of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw being a “star duo,” but it appears for now that Barkley is in position to be the most talented running back that the Giants have had in a decade.
So, what should Giants fans expect out of Barkley in his rookie season? The NFL has lately encountered a trend in an increase in talented rookie running backs over the past few seasons, best exemplified by players such as Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, Leonard Fournette, and more. Should fans expect an immediate Pro Bowler, or should they temper their expectations for the newest member of the Giants’ backfield? Or will Barkley pull a Trent Richardson? Let’s discuss.
The Giants’ offense is a squad already teeming with talent. Obviously, Odell Beckham Jr is the name that stands out amongst the crew, but players like Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram have proven that they are more than capable of carrying the brunt of an offensive game plan if needed. Players like Cody Latimer and Roger Lewis will provide solid depth behind the aforementioned Beckham and Shepard. Wayne Gallman and the newly acquired Jonathan Stewart will likely mix in to the game to relieve Barkley at times, but it remains to be seen how often. Can Barkley be a three-down back? I think so. Eli Manning thinks so. Manning is quoted having said that Barkley can contribute much to the play-action game, so it would make sense to use him as a three-down back.
He’s young, he’s insanely athletic, and the guy can flat out run AND catch the rock. In his last season at Penn State, Barkley caught 47 passes for 549 yards and 3 scores on top of his 1,134 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. That dynamic play-making ability coupled with the play-making ability of Odell Beckham makes for the potential of something truly special. Beckham will likely return to his own self, posting somewhere between 90-100 catches, which should be the case. Beckham is the star player for the Giants, and will eat into Barkley’s share of the work. I am not expecting Barkley to have 300 rushing attempts. Teams are moving away from riding a running back until exhaustion and using more committee-friendly approaches, so I believe that the Giants will use Barkley on the ground roughly 225-250 times. However, I believe he will continue to have much success receiving the ball, and turn into an Ezekiel Elliott-like threat out of the backfield on screen passes and running-back dump passes. 45 receptions in his rookie season is a likely estimate.
Saquon Barkley is going to be a very good player for the New York Giants. Many GM’s believed that he was the best player in the draft, and clearly GM Dave Gettleman thought that Barkley’s services would be the best for the Giants at #2. I believe that at the conclusion of this upcoming NFL season, Saquon Barkley will have 245 rushing attempts, about 1,300 rushing yards, and 8 rushing touchdowns. Likewise, I think he will catch 42 passes for about 600 yards and four additional touchdowns. I believe Barkley has a good chance to be the Rookie of the Year in the NFL this season.
What do you think? Do you agree with my predictions? Comment on this article and let me know!
Brendan's most recent blogs:
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