The New York Giants decided the selection of Penn State’s All-America running back Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick of the 2018 draft was the right choice for a team hoping to rebound into playoff contention, not a developmental quarterback.
Listeners and readers of the Talk of Fame Network agreed. We asked in our poll last week how many yards Barkley would gain rushing in his rookie season and gave them five options – 600 yards, 800, 1,000, 1,200 or NFL rushing title. A 1,200-yard season won with 33.7 percent of the vote, followed by a 1,000-yard season at 27.9 percent. Fifteen percent predicted an NFL rushing title.
Two years ago, Ezekiel Elliott was the fourth overall draft choice by the Dallas Cowboys and won the NFL rushing title as a rookie with 1,631 yards. Last year Leonard Fournette was the fourth overall choice by the Jacksonville Jaguars and finished eighth in the NFL with 1,040 yards. So rookie runners are having an impact.
The three Talk of Fame Network hosts – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – were in rare agreement but did disagree with the poll results. All pegged Barkley with a Fournette-type season, not an Elliott-type season.
“He’ll gain less than 1,200,” Borges said, “but more than 800…which leaves us with 1,000. That’s a pretty good rookie season. Especially behind that line.”
“I think he’ll gain about 300 more yards than the Giants’ leading rusher in 2017,” said Gosselin of Orleans Darkwa, who rushed for 751 yards last season.
Barkley became the sixth Penn State running back selected by the NFL with a Top 10 pick but only one ever rushed for 1,000 yards in a season – Curt Warner, who became a Pro Bowl running back with the Seattle Seahawks in the 1980s. Barkley posted three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at Penn State before giving up his senior season to turn pro. He rushed for 3,843 yards and 43 touchdowns for the Nittany Lions, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He also caught 102 passes and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns