The Giants.com staff debates the latest NFL Draft hot topics plus the new rule changes for the 2018 season:
There is a chance Saquon Barkley is not the first non-quarterback taken in the draft.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -
Absolutely. There are no guarantees in the NFL Draft. As great of a prospect as Saquon Barkley is, there are legitimate arguments to pick other position players ahead of him. I apologize (especially to Dan Salomone) that this might get a little long, but this is my six-part hypothetical argument for not taking him as the first non-quarterback in the draft:
- Position Value: Dave Gettleman has indicated that positional value is not something that's important to him, but even on the free agent market, running back contracts are smaller than other positions. The running back franchise tag is smaller than every other position except safety and kickers and punters.
- Position Role: Pat Shurmur has said a number of times this season that "it takes a village" at the running back position. Teams don't just give one guy 30 touches a game anymore, and Barkley didn't pound it between the tackles 25 times a game at Penn State, either. Why choose a part-time player over a full-time one?
- Durability: Running backs take more punishment than any other position in the league and often have shorter careers than others.
- Impact: It is my belief that a running back is more a product of his surroundings than his surroundings are the product of the running back. Ezekiel Elliott is a tremendous player, but would he have had the impact he has without a great offensive line in front of him?
- Bust History: According to research done by Bleacher Report (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2441018-which-positions-are-the-safest-riskiest-at-the-top-of-the-nfl-draft), from 1985 to 2010, first-round running backs had a bust rate of 47%, the HIGHEST of any position in the NFL.
- Depth Of The Class: This running back class is very deep and there is a decent chance of finding a player at the top of the second round (Derrius Guice, Ronald Jones, Sony Michel) who can give you similar production to Barkley if he has the right people surrounding him.
With all that said, Barkley is an excellent prospect and would be a good pick at second overall, as would Quenton Nelson and Bradley Chubb. There are many great options for the Giants.
DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -I see Schmeelk is still getting paid by the word, so I'll keep my answer short. A lot of things are unpredictable in the draft, but some things are just safe bets. When it's all said and done, his talent will be too good to pass up. He will be the first non-quarterback taken, if not the first player overall.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact - When exactly was the last time an NFL draft went according to script? Don't think too hard because it's a rhetorical question. This is an absolute fact. There's a chance just about anything can happen in this year's draft. While Saquon Barkley is one of the best prospects in this year's class and could turn out to be the most successful player, I wouldn't be surprised if North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson were taken before Barkley. Every team ranks players differently, prioritizes positions differently and has different needs, which is why it's more than reasonable to say there's a chance Barkley isn't the first non-quarterback taken in the draft.
With the No. 2 pick, you would rather draft a player who is great for five years than one who is good for 10.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - I'm going to assume this question is about two players at the same position, because otherwise this can get complicated really fast. I will take a player that is great for five years because I think it gives you a better chance of winning a Super Bowl than a good player over 10 years. A truly great player can make the difference between winning it all and getting knocked out of the playoffs. A good player doesn't move the needle quite as much. Putting the mark at five years also means you can make a better decision when his rookie contract is up.
DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - You want neither. What you really want with the second pick is a player who will be great for a decade, maybe more. That's what gets a player a gold jacket, and that's the caliber Dave Gettleman is looking for with his team drafting that high. If they don't think one is worthy, they can always trade down. "Have we had calls (from teams seeking to acquire the pick)? Yes," Gettleman said this week at the annual meetings in Orlando. "But we haven't set our board yet. It's about when you're drafting, when you're signing unrestricted free agents, it's all about value, it really, truly is. … This is the second pick in the draft. We really have to picture this guy putting on a gold jacket."
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - I'll take longevity over a quick flash any day of the week and two times on Sunday, especially in a sport where durability and consistency are very difficult to come by. The counter argument to that is windows close fast in the NFL and you should take advantage of a great player when you can, but, five great years out of a player isn't a good enough return on the second overall pick. In today's game, that's the span of one rookie contract. When you select a player number two overall, you want that player to be with your franchise for the long haul while being consistently productive. If that means good instead of great for 10 years, I can live with that. It takes much more than just one great player to win a Super Bowl.
The new catch rule will have a major effect moving forward.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - I think it will have an effect because most fans won't see plays ruled incomplete that they think logically should be ruled a catch. More than anything else, I think that will be the positive impact of the rules. What it doesn't mean, however, is that there won't be any more controversy over whether a play is ruled a catch, incomplete or a fumble. What constitutes a football move? When does a football move start or end and does one have to be completed or just started for it to count as a catch? What does "the ability to perform one" mean to individual referees? It will require some judgment. The controversy won't go away, but it will be a different type of controversy.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact - What we are seeing these days across all sports is the downside of replay – not just football. Just look at the current NCAA men's basketball tournament. It takes away from the drama of the game when every call is dissected to thousandths of a second. Beyond the slow-motion technology, the rulebook became too complicated for its own good, especially with what a catch is in the NFL. Owners, officials, and coaches all agreed it needed to be simplified and clarified. Now it is.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Any time any change has been made to the rules governing a catch, it has had a major effect on the game, so why would this be any different? Given "surviving the ground" is no longer in play, I'm sure it's going to take some time for everyone to get used to these rules (players and coaches included), but there will still be a debate over most plays because of the phrase "performs any act common to the game." No matter how well-written these rules are, there's always room for interpretation. If you think this will remove controversy from the NFL, I don't know what to tell you. The debate will most certainly ensue.
Based on what we've seen since the start of the new league year, we can expect to see even more trades in the draft.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -The "Fact Slam"! Even though the Jets have already moved up to the third overall pick to secure their quarterback, I think more trades might be coming from other teams trying to do the same thing. Will the Bills or Cardinals make a move to go higher? Will the Broncos sit at five or try to make a move? Will the Colts try to slide down even more? Whenever quarterbacks are involved, and there will be five or more that go in the first round, there is going to be movement.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -I'm not sure that one has to do with the other, but I'll go with "fact" here because it is shaping up to be a wild night on April 26 in Arlington. The Jets and Bills have already made moves to jockey for position, and the Browns holding the first and fourth overall picks really makes things interesting. All of that is on top of a quarterback class that has been hyped for well over a year now. There is going to be movement up to and including draft day.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact -The one trend I've noticed this offseason is many teams are turning draft picks into known commodities or veterans. So I wouldn't be surprised if we see more trades on draft day, including picks for players. Plus, whenever there is a group of quarterbacks who are expected to be taken near the top of the draft, there always tends to be a few teams who are willing to sacrifice resources to pursue those players aggressively, especially signal callers.