EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The entire NFL world seems to know that the Giants are in love with Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. It's so obvious that even just a week before the draft, Giants GM Dave Gettleman isn't trying to hide it.
"I'm not going to lie. He's a tremendous talent," Gettleman said at his pre-draft press conference on Thursday. "You put the film on of a defensive guy and if they're playing Penn State, then I'm watching Saquon. He's one of those guys that my mother could have scouted. She could have figured that one out."
So the Giants are taking him with the second overall pick in the NFL draft, as long as the Cleveland Browns don't take him at No. 1, right?
Maybe, but that's still a bit of a tricky question for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the one quarterback that Gettleman is said to love - USC's Sam Darnold - could be available, too. There's a chance, according to a source, that the Giants will take Barkley no matter who else is available. They like him that much, and as Gettleman has said often "the devaluing of the running back (in the NFL) is really a myth."
Still, there are important factors to consider, like:
- The shelf-life for running backs in the NFL can be short, due to the pounding their bodies take. Barkley is 21, but running backs rarely are productive into their 30s. Quarterbacks, on the other hand, can push 40 and still play at a high level.
- The salary cap hit for the No. 2 pick will be about $5.7 million. That would put a running back in the Top 10 among NFL running backs already. For a quarterback, though, that would be one of the lowest numbers in the league.
- Running backs are far easier to find than quarterbacks. Two of the best last year - Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt - lasted until the third round. And this year's class is considered particularly deep. So there's no doubt a quarterback has a much higher value based on just about every factor. But Gettleman insisted that a running back drafted that high can have tremendous value, too.
"If you have a great running back, he immediately makes your quarterback better, your offensive line better and your passing game (better)," Gettleman said. "So I don't believe in it. It's how you evaluate the players, how we value them, how we rate them and then you go on from there."
And as for the risk that a running back simply won't last long enough to justify being picked so high, Gettleman called that "dangerous" thinking.
"It's dangerous to look at it that way," he said. "(Former Bengals offensive tackle) Anthony Munoz failed everybody's physical (before the 1980 draft and he only played 15 years and went to the Hall of Fame. (Former Bills running back) Thurman Thomas had no ACL. I think he had a pretty long career.
"You make yourself crazy. You just can't get into that. It's the value. It's the player. Does he fit your scheme? If he fits your scheme and the value is there, pull the trigger and keep moving."
And that might be exactly what the Giants do with Barkley next Thursday night.