INDIANAPOLIS - One of Saquon Barkley's earliest football memories is from when he was 2 years old, watching his beloved Jets play on TV. He told his dad then that he'd be playing for that team someday.
But he's probably too good, now, to end up with the Jets who pick sixth in the NFL draft in April. So what about for his other hometown team, the Giants, who pick at No. 2?
"If I was fortunate enough to go to a team like that, and God blessed me with the success I had in college football and God blessed me with that success in the NFL, I think that would be a good fit," Barkley, the superstar Penn State running back said at the NFL scouting combine on Thursday. "Any team in my mind would be a good fit. But if you look at that team, last year they were in a lot of games and they had a lot of injuries. But you've got guys like Odell (Beckham), that TE (Evan Engram), Sterling Shepard, a quarterback that's established and proven himself and has got two Super Bowl rings.
"If I was fortunate enough to go to a team like that and have the success I had in college football, I think that would be another good fit."
Yes, it certainly would be. And you can bet that Giants GM Dave Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur agree. Shurmur, on Wednesday, glowed about what a talented, two-way running back could do in his offense. And Gettleman scoffed at the "myth" that running backs weren't as valuable as they used to be.
So Barkley is undoubtedly in play for the Giants at the No. 2 overall pick, especially if they decide not to take a quarterback. And he has no doubt he could step right in and help them right away.
"Seeing guys like (Ezekiel) Elliott and (Todd) Gurley and (Leonard) Fournette step right in and be successful, it gives you confidence," Barkley said. "Especially Elliott. He's arguably one of the best running backs in the NFL. Maybe the best. He came from the same division, same conference as I came from. He was able to have a lot of success in the Big 10 and I was able to have a lot of success in the Big 10. His game was able to translate to the next level.
"I hope the same goes for me."
It doesn't seem that anyone around the NFL has any doubts about that. The consensus is that Barkley is the best non-quarterback in the draft, and the crowd he drew during his media interview on Thursday shows he might be one of the most popular players, too. The only question is where he'll be taken in this quarterback-heavy draft class.
There has even been some speculation that the Browns, despite their desperate need for a quarterback, would consider selecting him No. 1.
"I'm competitive, but I don't care if I'm drafted 1, 5 or 72 or the last pick," he said. "I'm going to come in with my head low ready to work. That's not going to change me. No matter where I'm drafted or who I'm drafted by, they're going to get the same person. They're going to get the guy who's going to be a competitor, who's passionate about the game. Even though I'll be a rookie, I'm going to try to be a leader to the best of my ability and continue to work."
At the moment, it's hard to see him slipping past the Indianapolis Colts at No. 3, or perhaps the Browns who pick again at No. 4. That probably leaves out the Jets at 6, unless they used one of their extra second-round picks to move up and take him.
And they could use him, especially after running back Matt Forte retired on Wednesday. So what would Barkley think if that happened and his long-ago promise to his father came true? Well, he said now, as a fan, he's "kind of neutral". Even though he once dreamed of wearing Jets' green, he's now willing to take any NFL jersey he can get with his name on the back.
"Whatever team drafts me it's going to be a blessing," he said. "You're never going to forget that moment your name gets called and you walk up on that stage and pick up that jersey. That's something everybody here has dreamed about since they were a little kid.
"You grow up as a little kid dreaming of playing in the NFL and you have the opportunity. A team's going to pick you. If it's the Browns, if it's the Giants, wherever I get drafted I'm going to come in with my head low and get ready to work."