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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for Saquon Barkley

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The Giants.com staff debates Big Blue topics as the offseason continues:

*Saquon Barkley will have more rushing yards than Odell Beckham Jr. has receiving yards in 2018. *

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -Dan Salomone bringing the fire with his first Fact or Fiction following the draft. TOUGH statement. I'm going to go with fiction for two reasons. First off, I think Odell Beckham Jr. is going to have a monster bounce-back year and probably have a minimum of 1,350 receiving yards. That's a high bar for Saquon Barkley to pass with only rushing yards. I would expect Barkley to have at least 1,700 total yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving yards combined), but I'm not sure he'll get to 1,300 rushing yards. My guess is Barkley will not average more than 18-20 rushes per game because he will be so involved in the passing game. Eighteen carries a game at 4.5 yards per carry will get Barkley to just under 1,300 rushing yards. I would expect 5-7 catches per game from him, however, including a number of looks down the field for some big plays.

>> STEWART A WILLING MENTOR TO BARKLEY

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -Here's the cart. The horse is way down at the other end of the field. Let's not get ahead of ourselves too much – with either of these playmakers. Odell is still coming back from surgery, and Saquon hasn't had a practice rep in an NFL uniform. I'll stick with Odell, though, as a proven veteran. If we were talking all-purpose yards, I'd go with the rookie. I think Pat Shurmur is going to want to throw the ball to the No. 2 pick in the draft early and often.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Odell Beckham has played all 16 games just once in his first three seasons in the NFL, yet he still managed to post at least 1,300 receiving yards in each of those campaigns and that production has come with a variety of different players surrounding Beckham.  Saquon Barkley is more than capable of rushing for 1,000 yards, but assuming Beckham is fully healthy, I don't think he'll surpass the Giants' top receiver on the ground alone.  And you can't overlook the fact that Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman and Paul Perkins will all likely be in the mix, eating into some of Barkley's totals in the run game.

This was the Giants' most important draft since 2004.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -When you pick second overall, the draft is going to be more important. The highest the Giants selected in the draft since 2004 (fifth overall) was 2015, when they selected ninth. Whenever a team selects second overall, they have a chance to draft a transcendent player, and the Giants think they have one in Saquon Barkley. They then used their second round pick to take a road-grading lineman in Will Hernandez, who should create space for Barkley. The path forward is set for the next few seasons, in part thanks to what the choices the Giants had to make with the second overall pick.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -Part of me wants to be cliché and say every draft is important, because it really is. That is not just general manager or coach speak. However, it is just different when you're drafting in rarefied air at No. 2. Gettleman never shied away from his expectations of drafting that high – you have to envision that player in the Hall of Fame. That is what made this draft more important than the other ones as the team tries to bounce back from the most losses in franchise history.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -I can easily make an argument that every single draft is the most important because of the salary cap restraints in the NFL, but if we're going to use a time frame going back to 2004, I'd say this was the most important draft since 2015. That was the last time the Giants had a top-10 pick, and they were coming off two straight seasons with records below .500.  While the offense made strides in 2014, Ben McAdoo's first year as offensive coordinator, the defense had its fair share of struggles.  During the 2015 offseason, the Giants parted ways with defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and brought back Steve Spagnuolo.  They also moved on from veteran safety Antrel Rolle, and even though it happened after the draft, they wound up losing Jason Pierre-Paul for the majority of the season due to a hand injury.  Don't forget, during the 2014 season, Victor Cruz tore his patellar tendon, and right before the season, David Wilson was forced to retire because of a neck injury.  When you combine all those factors, the 2015 draft was extremely critical to fill various voids.

*Defensive tackle is now the deepest position on the roster. *

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -It might be quarterback, but since there are only four guys in that room and only one with any experience, I'll go with defensive tackle. The team already had two difference makers in Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson and then added two players in the draft the team thinks can help in B.J. Hill and RJ McIntosh. Veteran Robert Thomas is on the roster, as well, along with youngster Josh Banks. Throw in the fact the team only plays one traditional defensive tackle in their base 3-4, (two will play in most sub packages) and the depth chart is very impressive. Running back is also a position to look at with Barkley, Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman and Paul Perkins all on the roster.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -That's what happens when you draft two to a group that already included an All-Pro in Damon Harrison and a former second-round draft pick in Dalvin Tomlinson. The idea is to roll in as many defensive linemen as possible, so that when the fourth quarter comes around, the offensive line is sucking wind and you can close out the game. See: 2017 Eagles.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Adding B.J. Hill and RJ McIntosh through the draft provides the Giants with depth at defensive tackle behind Snacks and Dalvin Tomlinson, but I think when you combine experience and skillset, running back is the deepest position on the roster.  The Giants signed a polished veteran in Jonathan Stewart in free agency and still have Wayne Gallman and Paul Perkins, who they drafted in each of the previous two years and have six combined starts, and they just selected Saquon Barkley.  That doesn't mean all those players listed are finished products, but compared to any other position on the roster, it's fair to say the Giants have a pretty good idea of what they have in the backfield.

Cornerback is the competition to watch during OTAs.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -The only other option is right tackle, but since contact isn't allowed, cornerback will be a lot more fun to keep an eye on. Janoris Jenkins is the only sure thing at the position. Eli Apple has a clean slate but is coming off a rocky sophomore year. William Gay is the most experienced nickel cornerback on the roster, but he will have competition from players like Donte Deayon. Coordinator James Bettcher plays a lot of man-to-man defense, which puts pressure on the cornerback position. It will be fun to see how they perform in OTA's and if anyone steps up to stake a claim to a job.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -Right tackle will be the one to watch later in the summer at training camp when the pads come on. But in non-contact OTAs, it's all about receivers vs. defensive backs. And in this case, the cornerbacks will be particularly interesting. I'm most interested to see how Eli Apple responds with a clean slate. In the few practices the Giants held during their bonus minicamp before the draft, the former 10th overall pick looked aggressive and made some plays. Keep an eye on him.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -I'm going with the "fiction" clean sweep this week.  There will certainly be competition at corner, but that will take place mainly at the third spot given the presence of Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple.  Plus, William Gay, who was signed in free agency, has by far more experience than any other corner in the mix. Two other players who were added in free agency, Teddy Williams and B.W. Webb, haven't played in a regular season games since 2016.  I think the competition to watch during OTAs is the offensive line, and I'll say that for training camp, as well.  Ereck Flowers, Chad Wheeler and Adam Bisnowaty are likely in the mix at right tackle. It remains to be seen which guard spots Patrick Omameh and Will Hernandez will settle into, and let's not forget John Jerry, who has plenty of starting experience, is still on the roster, as is John Greco and Jon Halapio, both of whom were on last season's roster.

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