It isn't a smokescreen. Saquon Barkley appears to be the guy the Giants want at No. 2.
At least, that's what ESPN's Todd McShay feels from the Giants' camp. News has swirled around the Giants wanting to take Barkley with their first-round selection, with fellow ESPN analyst Louis Riddick saying there is a "strong sentiment" for Barkley in New York's building.
SI's Ben Baskin even wrote that Barkley's camp wants him to go to the Giants because "that's where you can become the Face of the League."
Well, McShay thinks that dream will become a reality next Thursday as he said it is "inevitable" the Penn State running back will be daunting a Big Blue jersey next season.
"It just feels to me, like it's inevitable that Saquon Barkley is going to be a New York Giant," McShay told The Post's Paul Schwartz.
McShay went more in-depth, saying the Giants want to change to a run-first offense and Barkley would be the perfect man to do so.
"I've heard really strongly that there are important people in that building who believe in Saquon Barkley, the player, that's what they want to be," McShay explained. "The Giants want to be a run-first, physical football team, and Saquon can basically be the face of that franchise moving forward for several years."
The Giants' have been a pass-first team for years with Eli Manning under center. Their offense revolved around playmakers like Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and most recently, Odell Beckham Jr. on the outside.
But this is GM Dave Gettleman's team now, and combining him with new head coach Pat Shurmur, the narrative seems to be changing. Shurmur's offenses have utilized the run game to open up the passing game, but Barkley has the ability to catch as well giving Shurmur loads of options to work with in the backfield.
"He can be the back that they've had in years past," McShay said. "If you spend 10 minutes with Saquon, you understand that he's going to be the face of a franchise. He's so likeable, so easy to get along with. He's a great, genuine young man who loves the game and is going to give you everything that he's got every week."
A franchise-type player, or more specifically, a Hall of Fame player is what Gettleman says warrants a No. 2 pick. With Barkley being regarded as a better prospect than Ezekiel Elliott and Adrian Peterson coming out of college, a gold jacket looks to be in his future.
That is why McShay doesn't see the Giants trying to go for a running back like Nick Chubb or Derrius Guice in the second or third rounds. Instead, they want to take the best overall player in the draft that will make an immediate impact in his rookie season.
"There are a lot of good running backs in this class, but this guy's different," McShay said. "If you're committed to the running game, and that's what you want to be as an organization, then it makes sense to take Barkley. The Giants want to be a run-first team. That's what I'm told their emphasis is. If that's the case, Barkley makes all the sense in the world."
McShay also noted that USC QB Sam Darnold appears to be the only quarterback the Giants like out of the top prospects. It would be interesting to see what they do if the Browns, for example, decided to go with Wyoming QB Josh Allen leaving Darnold and Barkley to choose from.