ORLANDO -- Giants GM Dave Gettleman has made it clear that he won't necessarily take a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft. Of course, he wouldn't say who else he was considering.
But it sure sounded like he expects Penn State running back Saquon Barkley to be sitting atop his draft board when it's done.
Gettleman, who has been an NFL executive for 20 years and before that a scout since 1986, was practically drooling when he spoke about Barkley at the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday. He said he has very rarely seen a running back with the skills the 5-foot-11, 230-pounder has, which of course is why so many scouts and NFL executives consider him to be the best player in the draft.
"It's unusual," Gettleman said. "I'm telling you, he can string together moves and get in and out of stuff. It's funny, I (watched film of) him right before I came down. He's unique, no doubt about it. He's big, he's powerful, he can step on the gas, he's got different levels of speed. And he catches the heck out of the ball and he sees the blitz pickup stuff.
"So, you know, he's unique."
There's no doubt he is, and both Gettleman and Giants coach Pat Shurmur have said they don't have a problem with taking a running back second overall. For years, the prevailing thought in the NFL was that running backs could be found later, and that building an offensive line was far more important. But a recent run of game-changing running backs - like Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott and Los Angeles' Todd Gurley - has seemingly changed all that.
That's why the Giants could be faced with a very interesting choice if the Browns don't take Barkley with the top pick. The Giants need a quarterback to eventually replace the 37-year-old Eli Manning, and Shurmur admitted he has an "urge" to find a "generational quarterback" for his new team.
But what he's seen out of Barkley might give him a different draft-night urge, too.
"He's equally impressive, like the quarterbacks," Shurmur said. "When you watch his tape there isn't anything he can't do. He's really a pretty good pass protector. That's an important piece. And he can catch the football as well.
"He can do everything you're looking for in a running back, and he's a terrific human being as well."
Gettleman said he's heard that about Barkley too, though the only chance they had to meet was during a formal, 15-minute interview at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis earlier this month. Gettleman said the Giants' plan is to bring in Barkley for one of their 30 official pre-draft visits, so he can get to know him a little more.
"Shame on me if I don't know him," Gettleman said. "I think everybody said he's a great, great human being."
But is he a great enough player for the Giants to pick him at No. 2, despite their need for that "generational quarterback?" It might depend on what the Browns do first, but if Barkley is there, it's clear he'll be in the conversation when the Giants make their pick.