New York Giants, Saquon Barkley
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Expectations for Saquon Barkley, the New York Giants first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, are high. Will he live up to the hype? 

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has said the second pick in the NFL Draft has to be a Hall of Fame-caliber player. The Giants believe they have that in Saquon Barkley.

Shortly after drafting him, Gettleman spoke about what a unique talent Barkley is.

Obviously, we felt Saquon was the best player in the draft. In baseball, they call it a five-tool player. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to pick five tools, but I have not seen a guy like this in a long time and I have been around a long time. I have been doing this for 30-plus years. The kid is so unique because of his size and his speed. He has the ability to string together multiple moves. He has the ability to step on the gas. He can do what we call cross the formation. There are a lot of good backs in this league, but they don’t have the speed to go across the formation.

 

We all know he can catch the heck out of the rock. He is smart in blitz pickup, he sees it. That is probably the biggest issue with all these young rushers now. He is powerful, he runs through tackles and he runs through hits. When we were in here before, we were talking about quarterbacks and if they make everyone better.

 

If you think about it, this kid makes our quarterback better, he makes our receivers better, he makes our O-line better. He makes our defense better because he has the much stronger ability to hold the ball. He is a great kid and he will be great for our culture. He was the unanimous best player in our draft. 

 Expectations can sometimes wear a player down—especially a rookie—but Barkley has the talent and mindset not to let the expectations faze him.

Here are three predictions for Saquon Barkley in the 2018 season.


New York Giants

1. He’ll be the Giants’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012

Believe it or not, the Giants haven’t had a running back rush for 1,000 yards since Ahmad Bradshaw accomplished this feat in 2012.

Even if he winds up splitting carries with Wayne Gallman and Jonathan Stewart, Barkley stands a great chance of ending the Giants five-year streak of not having a 1,000-yard  rusher.

How can that be?? Because new Giants head coach Pat Shurmur is committed to running the football. Last season, when Shurmur was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota, the Vikings ran the ball 501 times—the second-most in the NFL.

With an improved offensive line that includes Nate Solder, Patrick Omameh, and second-round pick Will Hernandez, Barkley will eclipse the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie.

2. He’ll score double-digit touchdowns

Barkley is not only a dynamic runner, but he’s also an exceptional pass catcher. In his three seasons at Penn State, he caught 95 passes for 1,157 yards and eight touchdowns.

Look for the Giants to capitalize on Barkley’s ability to catch the ball and open field running ability by throwing him a few screen passes a game. Between finding the end zone on the ground and his receiving touchdowns, Barkley will find the end zone at least 10 times next season.

 

3. He’ll be the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year

The Giants leading rusher from a season ago, Orleans Darkwa, averaged 4.4 yards per carry behind a porous offensive line. Just imagine what Barkley can do behind an offensive line that actually has quality, NFL-caliber talent across the board.

As good as Barkley is, defenses won’t be able to key in on him because they’ll be worried about trying to contain receivers Odell Beckham Jr, Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. Stacking the box isn’t an option. So Barkley will be running against nickel formations often.

Having some of the best playmakers in the game as your teammates and a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Eli Manning guiding and mentoring will make the transition from college to the NFL easier for Barkley.

Expect Barkley to have a similar season to what Alvin Kamara had in 2017 for the New Orleans Saints as a rookie.

Finishing the season with around 1,300-to-1,500 all-purpose yards and double-digit touchdowns will get him the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, just as Kamara claimed a season ago.

Barkley has a bright NFL future ahead of him. What he does in 2018 will only be a taste of what’s to come.

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