Sat. Dec 14th, 2019

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Saquon Barkley or Sam Darnold?

4 min read
Saquon Barkley or Sam Darnold?


The New York Giants selected Penn State running back Saquon Barkley second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was the best player in the draft and it was a no-brainer. End of story, right?

Nearly a year and a half later, things are changing. Barkley hasn’t turned the Giants into winners. They still stink and when Barkley will actually get to play in a game of any substance could be a ways off.

Conventional thinking says taking a running back at R1, P2 is not a prudent use of the pick. That slot should be reserved for a player who can last eight to 10 years in the NFL, such as a quarterback, offensive lineman or pass rusher.

Running backs on the average are four-to-five year players and it is rare they get a second contract in the NFL. The Giants are banking that Barkley will be an outlier and play a long time in this league.

But here we are in Year 2 and Barkley is already dogged by injuries. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3 and has not been able to shake its after effects. As a result, he’s been sluggish in the run game, averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.

Barkley has gained 154 yards on 17 receptions however, but does not look like the same player he was before the injury. Many believe he came back too soon and is still working his way up to 100 percent, or least they hope he does.

That has led some to question the Giants’ selection of Barkley two years into his career. I personally would have taken USC quarterback Sam Darnold with that pick. Instead, he fell to the Jets, who traded up for the third pick.

Not that I don’t like Barkley. I think he’s fantastic, but the argument for positional value could be coming into play. Barkley could have already had his best season while Darnold will be around for the next decade.

Look at the team that have one the last couple of Super Bowls — New England, Philadelphia Denver, et al — all teams with a committee approach at running back. Last year, the Rams, who relied heavily on Todd Gurley for several seasons, advanced to the Super Bowl without him being a major contributor down the stretch due to injury.

If the Giants had selected Darnold, they would not have used this year’s sixth overall pick on Daniel Jones. They probably would have taken outside linebacker Josh Allen of Kentucky. Darnold would be in Year 2 under Pat Shurmur, the Giants would likely be better on the offensive line and they’d be on their way.

Not that Darnold hasn’t had his issues, either. Injuries, illnesses, a horrific offensive line and two coaches in two seasons have all stunted his growth as a pro. He’s actually in regression and fans are foolishly doubting the Jets decision to select him.

They have a right to do that but not from the perspective that it’s the player. It’s the organization. They have little clue. They hired a coach who failed at the same job in the same division. Then, they fired the general manager after they allowed him to spend wildly in free agency and run their draft. Then, they made the new coach the GM and asked him to go find one.

Makes perfect sense. A model organization for a young quarterback to mature in. No wonder they’re 1-7.

Sunday will mark the first regular season meeting between Barkley and Darnold. Both teams have so many issues, it is a subplot that has been glossed over this week.

The Giants are going through growing pains with the quarterback they did pick and their defense is so porous, it is almost shameful that no one has been cut or fired through the first eight weeks.

The Jets are a rudderless mess with too much talent to be a doormat. With players like Darnold, Le’Veon Bell, Jamal Adams and Quinnen Williams they should be competing a little better a this point.

This game will be painful for both fan bases to watch. Two sorry organizations with some pretty good players caught up in tow bad situations.

2018 NFL Re-Draft: Saquon Barkley or Sam Darnold?

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