Giants running back Saquon Barkley knows that some people think the Giants should have chosen quarterback Sam Darnold over him in last year’s draft. But he doesn’t know what he can do to change those people’s minds.
“If a Rookie of the Year doesn’t sway that mindset, I don’t know what will,” Barkley said, via Kimberly Jones of NFL Network.
But that’s just it: Nothing will sway that mindset. Because the idea that the Giants should have taken Darnold isn’t about Barkley at all. Criticizing the Giants’ decision was never about doubting Barkley would be a good running back. It’s about doubting that any running back can help the Giants as much as Darnold would have.
The reality is, in today’s NFL, if you need a franchise quarterback and you have a chance to draft him, and you draft a running back instead, that’s a bad move — even if that running back is Rookie of the Year. There’s a reason that 20 quarterbacks will make more money this year than the highest-paid running back: Quarterback is a far more valuable position.
If Darnold develops into a good quarterback, and Barkley develops into a great running back, then Darnold is the more valuable player. It’s not a knock on Barkley to say there’s nothing he can do to help the Giants win as much as Darnold will help the Jets win if he blossoms into a high-quality starting quarterback. It’s just the reality of their positions.
Barkley and Darnold will always be linked because they play in the same city and were drafted second and third overall in the same year. And if Darnold becomes an elite starting quarterback, he’ll always be the player the Giants should have drafted, and a career full of highlight-reel runs from Barkley won’t change that.