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Ernie Accorsi was the Giants’ GM who found coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning in the same year. That would be 2004, and we all know what happened: They led the Giants to two Super Bowl defeats of New England.
But Coughlin is gone, Manning is 37 and the Giants are trying to get back to winning with a new coach, a new GM, a new cast and … well, and Eli Manning. The question, of course, is: How do they get there? And new GM Dave Gettleman answered with last month’s pick of Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall choice of the NFL draft.
“The best running back I’ve seen come out of college in 20 years,” Accorsi said on this week’s Talk of Fame Network podcast. “I told Dave, ‘If you don’t pick Barkley, it’s a good thing the draft is in Dallas. Because if it were in Radio City (Music Hall), you’re going to get booed.’
“I just thought that, if they were going to commit to Eli for another couple of years, and given the talent they have on offense … and given the fact that he had almost completely rebuilt the offensive line … it was a no-brainer to me.
“They can make a run. With that talent they have on offense, it’s explosive … I just think it was an ideal pick. He’s a great player.”
So great, in fact, that shortly after the Giants chose the Penn State star, New York writers asked Accorsi if he could compare him to anyone. He said he couldn’t — which, it turns out, wound up becoming some of the highest praise yet for Barkley.
“(Jim Brown) is the greatest I ever saw,” said Accorsi, “but from a pure halfback standpoint, Gale Sayers is the greatest I ever saw. Those two are set aside. The thing about Barkley … I can’t compare him to anybody. Because I’ve never quite seen someone with that size with, basically, sprinter’s speed.
“I’ve seen him get into space on the flank, either through a broken tackle or taking a swing pass, where the defensive back had an angle on him … had an absolute angle on him at least to push him out (of bounds) … and he kicks into another gear and runs by him. If it was a touch-football league, he wouldn’t even have gotten him. For a guy who’s that thick, and that big and powerful, to have that kind of speed … it’s rare.”
How rare? Click on the following link for more of Ernie Accorsi on the Giants’ draft and Saquon Barkley: