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Giants Now (7/10): ESPN survey ranks Saquon No. 1


ESPN survey ranks Saquon as NFL's top running back

Giants running back Saquon Barkley has widely been considered one of the most talented backs in the NFL by analysts and reporters since entering the league in 2018. However, his praise goes beyond that of the media.

ESPN recently conducted a survey of 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to help pick the top 10 players at various positions. The objective was to find the best players right now for the 2020 season.

The survey resulted in Barkley being ranked as the NFL's top running back.

"One opposing offensive coach was on the sideline last season, watching his tablet between series, when he just had to look up for a few seconds," writes ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. "Saquon Barkley was about to take the field, and 'he's a player you have to catch a glimpse at,' he said. 'Can score from anywhere on the field, and you feel that,' one NFC exec said. 'That's rare. Can generate more big plays than anyone.'"

Barkley has been in the league for only two seasons yet has already put together an impressive resume. As a rookie in 2018, Barkley accumulated over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns. The running back set several NFL and Giants records that year on his way to the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year award, as well as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and the FedEx Ground Player of the Year award.

Despite missing three and a half games in 2019, Barkley still rushed for over 1,000 yards, becoming the first running back in team history to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark in each of his first two seasons. The 23-year-old has proven to be one of the most explosive runners in the NFL, in addition to being one of the most difficult players to take down. He has already registered nearly 3,500 yards from scrimmage and 23 total touchdowns in his first two seasons.

"You have at least four guys worrying about him every snap," a veteran NFL linebacker told Fowler.

In a tight race for the top spot on ESPN's list, Barkley beat out Carolina's Christian McCaffrey and Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott after earning the most first-place votes.

"Cutting ability, vision, contact balance -- he's got it all," said an AFC executive. "Nothing he doesn't do."

View photos of Giants running back Saquon Barkley's time with the New York Giants.

PFF places Eli Manning's 2011 season in elite company

The 2011 season was a special one for Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

Manning completed 61.0 percent of his passes that season, throwing for 29 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a career-best 4,933 yards on his way to earning his second Pro Bowl selection.

Of course, the veteran quarterback was unable to participate in Pro Bowl festivities due to the Giants' postseason journey to a Super Bowl XLVI title, a run that featured an outstanding stretch of games from Manning. Across those four playoff games, he completed 65.0 percent of his passes for 1,219 yards, nine touchdowns and just one interception.

While the statistics are great, Manning's success went beyond those numbers. Manning endured the third-highest pressure rate in the NFL in 2011, yet finished with a career-best 80.2 grade when facing pressure, according to Pro Football Focus. In addition, the legendary Giants quarterback threw for 700 more yards than the next-closest QB when facing pressure, including the playoff run.

On top of his success while under pressure, Manning made plenty of clutch throws that season. Manning is one of only three quarterbacks with 50 or more big-time throws in a season since 2006, according to PFF. His 53 big-time throws in 2011 matched that of New Orleans' Drew Brees (2011, 2012) and topped Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers' 50 (2011).

As PFF states, "In its simplest terms, a big-time throw is on the highest end of both difficulty and value. While the value is easy to see statistically, the difficulty has more to do with passes that have a lower completion percentage the further the ball is thrown down the field. Therefore, the big-time throw is best described as a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window."

As the analytics show, Manning enjoyed a truly magical season in 2011, leading the Giants to the franchise's fourth Super Bowl championship.

Game day protocols for 2020 season include postgame restrictions

As with everything that has gone on over the last few months, the 2020 NFL regular season will not look like what fans are used to seeing.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that teams would not be allowed to have interactions within six feet of each other following the completion of a game. This includes jersey exchanges, which are prohibited for the 2020 season.

The bans were part of the NFL-NFLPA game-day protocols that teams received this week.

Some of the other changes for this season include the banning of on-field fan seating, both teams must travel to the stadium via bus, and the media will not be allowed in the locker room.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport later added that players and coaches will not be forced to wear masks on the sideline. However, other game day workers in the bench areas will be required to wear one. In addition, anyone with access to the bench area will be screened before the game.

These changes are scheduled to go in effect once the preseason begins. These protocols are subject to change.

The Giants' COVID-19 Task Force has been working hard to make the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as safe as possible. Many important changes have been made for the safety of Giants employees in accordance with guidelines from the CDC, NFL, National Institute of Health, and the State of New Jersey.