As 2018 NFL Draft grades continue to roll in, the general consensus is that the New York Giants, led by general manager Dave Gettleman, landed one of the best overall hauls in the league.
However, some remain critical of their decision to pass on a quarterback at No. 2 overall, where they instead took Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
One of the most critical takes of that selection came by way of Bleacher Report, who labeled it the “worst pick” in the draft.
According to Spotrac, the New York Giants guaranteed Saquon Barkley $31 million in his rookie contract, which will be the second-most for any running back in NFL history. When you take a back as high as Giants general manager Dave Gettleman did, the expectations based on dollars alone are almost unattainable.
Barkley may be above-average, but it will be tough for him to live up to the investment. He also likely won’t make as much of an impact as the four quarterbacks who were drafted between New York’s first and second picks (No. 34 overall): Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Lamar Jackson.
Speaking of that second selection—offensive lineman Will Hernandez—Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones, Kerryon Johnson and Derrius Guice were all still on the board when the Giants made it. It would have been reasonable for them to take a non-running back at No. 2 or even trade down, like the Indianapolis Colts did at No. 3 to add three second-round picks, and still expect a starting-caliber tailback to be there at no. 34.
Instead, Gettleman made the decision that all analytically inclined people would have said to avoid and then immediately made a fool out of himself in a press conference by mocking said people. Teams make busts; players don’t. Gettleman will regret his move in three to six years, but it won’t be Barkley’s fault.
The amount of money guaranteed to Barkley is substantial, but the argument here is more about what the quarterbacks will do rather what Barkley will do.
Yes, the money should be brought into consideration when evaluating the pick, but there is absolutely no guarantee that any of the quarterbacks taken in the first round will amount to anything. The mere fact that Baker Mayfield went No. 1 overall when the media pegged Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen as superior passers proves how far off in their evaluation these “experts” were.
It’s easy to sling mud before anyone has taken the field, but the bottom line is that the Giants landed the best player in the draft and addressed a serious need in the process. Had they instead taken a quarterback who went on to bust, as Gettleman has said, it would have set the organization back at least five years.
You can’t make yourself fall in love with a player and if you do, it’s a mistake. Gettleman and the Giants didn’t love any of the quarterbacks. Period.