Barkley rushed for 3,843 yards in three seasons for the Nittany Lions and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 and 2017. He set school records for all-purpose yards (5,538), total touchdowns (53), and rushing touchdowns (43). Barkley was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a Consensus All-American in 2017.
“I’m not going to lie. He’s a tremendous talent,” general manager Dave Gettleman said last week at his pre-draft news conference. “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.”
The Giants were enamored with Barkley from the very beginning of the draft process. Barkley furthered impressed the team with an eye-catching performance at the combine. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, did 29 reps on the bench press, and had a 41-inch vertical leap. One scout felt Barkley was a better prospect than Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette, who were drafted fourth overall in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Barkley joins a Giants offense that includes 2014 first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr., 2016 second-round pick Sterling Shepard, and 2017 first-round pick Evan Engram. He should provide an immediate spark to a Giants’ offense that finished 21st in total offense and 26th in rushing offense.
Conventional wisdom held that the Giants would select a quarterback with the second overall pick. Eli Manning turns 38 a few days after the regular season finale. The only other quarterback on the roster is Davis Webb, a 2017 third-round selection hasn’t taken any meaningful snaps. Instead, the team selected the No. 1 player on many draft boards.
Gettleman is not worried about using such a high pick on a running back.
“I think that the devaluing of the running back is really a myth,” Gettleman said. “If you have a great running back, he immediately makes your quarterback better, your offensive line better and your passing game. 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.”
Barkley, a native of the Bronx, has had a very interesting week. On Tuesday, he became a father for the first time with the birth of his daughter, Jada Clare.