New York Giants select Saquon Barkley with #2 overall pick, leaving Eagles fans between a rock and a hard place

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“You Either Die A Hero, Or You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain.”

For many that call themselves a combination of Penn State and Philadelphia Eagles fans, Harvey Dent’s tremendous quote from one of the all-time great movies, the Dark Knight, resonates loudly tonight as the New York Giants have selected Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the second pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. It was something that was foreseeable, but for many in the Delaware Valley, this selection stings no less than I expected it would.

On one hand, Penn State faithful find themselves indebted to Saquon Barkley for the product he put on the field and his commitment to the program during its darker times. To them, Barkley is a god amongst men. Flip that sentiment, however, and you have yourself a large portion of Eagles fans in the area that are dreading the idea of having to see Barkley receiving handoffs from Eli Manning, clad in Giant blue and white twice a season for the calculable future.

Subjectively, this hurts. Objectively, the New York Giants made the correct pick. I’ve touted for months now that Saquon Barkley was the best player in this year’s NFL Draft. It had nothing to do with the University, whose name is etched on a piece of paper protected by a frame, that I attended. I’ve been vehemently against bias throughout my time in the media. Instead, the juxtaposition of Saquon Barkley and the number one overall pick had everything to do with his immense talent.

Barkley possess a rare combination of size and speed. The Penn State back posted a 4.4 40 time despite weighing in at 233 pounds. He threw up 29 reps on the bench press, more than a handful of offensive lineman. He also leapt 41 inches in the vertical jump. He has tree-trunk think legs that provide him with ample explosiveness while not depleting his speed or elusiveness out of the backfield.

It’s worth mentioning despite repetition that Barkley’s NFL Draft stock comparison was Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. That’s not something you glance over. This comparison comes on the precipice of the NFL Draft which features up to six quarterbacks that could be taken in the first round. The consensus sits at five. The same can not be said for running backs this year. If just one other running back other than Saquon Barkley get drafted tonight, I’d be mildly surprised. That shows the dropoff between Barkley and the rest of the running back class, which, for what it’s worth, is extraordinarily deep this year. There simply isn’t a comparable back to Barkley.

Barkley will almost assuredly assume the role of feature back in New York where a plethora of average running backs lie. The Giants used a handful of backs in 2017, including Orleans Darkwa, Wayne Gallman, and Shane Vereen. While the Giants offensive line does remain a question mark and the quarterback position is in flux with an aging Eli Manning, the selection of Saquon Barkley ensures the Giants won’t have to use free agency or another draft pick on a premiere running back in the future.

Eagles fans, will it be hard to root against Saquon Barkley? Most likely. Do I expect you to do it wholeheartedly, just as you would any other player on that roster? Absolutely. While Saquon Barkley was once the White Knight that the Penn State community needed, as Harvey Dent famously said, “It’s always darkest just before the dawn- and the dawn is coming,” he must now be looked at as nothing more than a fallen hero, the Two Face villain you will root against.

 

Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

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