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Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay debate Giants draft needs

Posted Feb 14, 2018

ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay debate the best options for the Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft:



To select Saquon Barkley, or not to select Saquon Barkley, that is the question for teams picking at the top of the draft.

Surrounded by a quarterback class that has been hyped for well over a year now, the running back out of Penn State is viewed by many as the best overall prospect. But we all know how important the quarterback position is and how no team wants to miss on the player who could serve as the face of the franchise for the next decade or more. No pressure.

Of course, Cleveland could make things easy for teams, including the Giants at No. 2, by drafting Barkley No. 1 overall. But he would be the first running back taken at the top spot since 1995, when the Bengals selected Ki-Jana Carter, another Nittany Lion.

In two weeks, Barkley will be among 336 prospects participating in the four-day job interview known as the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. The testing, timing, physical exams and interviews that go on there will answer some questions, but not to a point where it will be a foregone conclusion when the first round begins on April 26.

Until then, the debate wages on.

“Barkley would make the most sense,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said on a recent podcast with fellow draftnik Todd McShay.  “Obviously, then you could look at a quarterback maybe down the line. [The Giants] drafted [Davis] Webb last year out of Cal. We’ll see, but to take the quarterback, the heir apparent to Eli Manning, that would be the debate. Now it would make it a little easier if Cleveland did take Barkley and then you could say, ‘OK, where do we go now? Do we take the guard [Quenton] Nelson or do we take the quarterback?’ It would depend how [Giants general manager Dave] Gettleman would feel about these three quarterbacks. Is there one that he deems a potential franchise guy and as the heir apparent to Eli who could be that big-time quarterback? If he feels there is one of those guys and Barkley is gone, then you take the quarterback.”

Kiper has Barkley No. 1 overall on his current big board, followed by North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, and quarterbacks Josh Allen of Wyoming, Josh Rosen of UCLA and Sam Darnold of USC.

Both Kiper and McShay have Rosen going to the Giants in their latest mock drafts.



“This is a tough one because if there is a window, it’s closing quickly,” McShay said. “But you’ve got to remember this is a team that won a lot of football games two years ago, and if you’re a glass half-full kind of guy, you’re looking at it and saying, ‘Why can’t we get back to that? We need to have a good draft, we need to make a couple small moves in free agency, and let’s get right back on track.’ The problem is you don’t plan on drafting this high – no one ever does – but it’s not likely they’re going to wind up with the No. 2 pick in a draft where we all agree there’s some talent at quarterback.

“And so you look at this and it’s really a tug-of-war internally, I think. ‘Do we go with a running back and immediately give a shot in the arm to our offense and provide something that we have not had in a while? And that is a difference-maker, a dynamic player at the running back position who can catch the ball, who can block for Eli and who, when we hand him the ball, he’s going to do special things that very few guys in the league can actually do. Or do we get the quarterback because we’re up here and we don’t plan on picking up here for a long time?’ And how many times do you get an opportunity to draft a Josh Allen and sit him for a year and have him learn behind an Eli Manning and hopefully set up our organization for the next 10-12 years. It’s a tough call. Something tells me they wind up going with Barkley and taking the best player in the draft and deal with quarterback later. I don’t know if that’s the right move for the organization long-term, though.”

So that clears things up, right? Not exactly.

These are conversations that will only heat up in the coming weeks as the NFL calendar progresses. In the meantime, check out the latest mock drafts floating around right now:

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com
Pick: Saquon Barkley - RB, Penn State
Analysis: “I could easily see the Giants addressing the quarterback spot here, but instead they opt for the best player in the draft.”

Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Analysis: "The most dynamic running back in the draft would alleviate a lot of the pressure on Eli Manning to carry the squad."

Charley Casserly, NFL.com
Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Analysis: “The Giants land the most pro-ready QB in the draft.”

Matt Miller, Bleacher Report
Pick: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
Analysis: “If you're Gettleman and the Giants, you have to plan to not be drafting this high again anytime soon. That means you get the quarterback.”



Nate Davis, USA TODAY Sports
Pick: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Analysis: “He'll need to clean up his footwork and decision-making, but he's arguably the top passing prospect in this year's crop — even if a relatively disappointing 2017 season has (at least temporarily) dampened talk of him being a slam dunk No. 1 overall pick. Still, Darnold seems to have all the mental and physical tools, including impressive mobility, to be an upper-tier starter.”

Chris Trapasso, CBSSports.com
Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA 
Analysis: “Just a guess here -- Rosen wants to play for the Giants. With New York City media. With routine Sunday Night Football games against the Cowboys. He's eerily similar to Eli Manning when the veteran entered the NFL, so Rosen could learn a lot from him.”

R.J. White, CBSSports.com
Pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State 
Analysis: “Barkley is right up there as one of the best prospects at his position -- and possibly No. 1 -- heading to the NFL in recent years. If the Giants aren't locked into a QB -- and they shouldn't be -- he's a fine option for No. 2.”

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA 
Analysis: "While there are better players on the board, the Giants might reach to fill a need."

Dane Brugler, The Sports Xchange
Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA 
Analysis: “The Giants don’t expect to be drafting in the top three very often and with the future of Eli Manning very much up in the air, the Giants should target the quarterback of the future. Rosen is far from a clean prospect, but his natural passing skills and arm talent are starter quality.”

Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
Pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA 
Analysis: “An elite runner like Penn State’s Saquon Barkley could be exactly what Eli Manning (and Odell Beckham Jr.) need to get the Giants back on track, but Gettleman may find it hard to pass on a talent like Rosen, whose big arm and personality could make him a perfect fit for Broadway.”