Saquon Barkley
Robby Sabo, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley has lived up to all of the hype surrounding him and at the halfway point of the season, he’s the front-runner to become NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Jason Leach

Take Saquon Barkley or a quarterback to be the successor to Eli Manning. That was the position New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was in after the Cleveland Browns took Baker Mayfield with the first pick.

To many, this would have been a difficult decision, but for Gettleman, it was an easy one as he saw Barkley as a once in a generation player.

Whether or not the Giants should have taken Barkley over a quarterback will be debated by fans for years to come. What can’t be debated is despite the Giants 1-7 start, is that Barkley has lived up to everything that Gettleman believed he would be.

He’s rushed for 519 yards which is the eighth most in the league. He also has 58 receptions which are second most on the team for 497 yards and has at least 100 all-purpose yards in seven of the Giants eight games. In addition, he has seven of the Giants 14 touchdowns they’ve scored this season.

As bad as the Giants offense has been they would be unwatchable if not for Barkley.

Barkley stands a good chance of becoming on the third player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and to have 1,000 yards receiving joining Roger Craig (1985) and Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (1999).

What makes Barkley’s feats that more remarkable, is that he’s doing this with one of the worst offensive lines in football.

The offensive line has come under constant scrutiny for not being able to protect Manning, but their run blocking has been poor as well.

Often Barkley has to elude defenders just to get back to the line of scrimmage. When Barkley has run for big gains, he often breaks several tackles in the process showing casing his speed and strength.

Despite the Giants 1-7 start and poor offensive line play, you never hear a negative word coming out of Barkley’s mouth. Instead, he remains positive and has demonstrated leadership qualities despite being just 21 years old.

Even though he’s had individual success, he still knows he can get better. Early this week, Barkley was asked what he’ll do during the bye week.

“Go back, watch film on yourself, see what you can do better from the first half of the season, see the things you did well, try and improve overall in your game. Take a little bit of time off to just decompress from football, but also keep aware that you can’t take too much time off because you’ve still got to keep your body in shape for another eight games, and come back ready to work.”

There are several rookies such as Kerryon Johnson, Calvin Ridley, and Phillip Lindsay who are having great seasons. But none of them have made an immediate impact or have made bigger plays than Barkley.

He’s clearly the front-runner to win NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year. This might give Giants fans a bit of solace in what has been another disastrous season.

The Giants franchise is in complete disarray as they’re 4-21 since they’re infamous boat trip prior to their January 2017 wildcard game against the Green Bay Packers and are in full rebuild mode.

Barkley is the best thing going for the Giants as he’s becoming the face of the franchise and will be the cornerstone of the rebuilding process. Eventually, things will turn around for the Giants and Barkley will be one of the main reasons why.

When the Giants build a solid offensive line for him, the possibilities are limitless.

Barkley will lead the team to better days and hopefully to championships. But for 2018 fans will have to settle for Barkley being the best rookie in the NFL.

Jason's first love was football while growing up in northern New Jersey. For the past three years, he has covered the New York Giants, as well as several boxing events along the East Coast.