Giants pass on QB, take running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2

Penn State's Saquon Barkley, right, poses with commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New York Giants during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants passed on an heir apparent to two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and took a running back that many think is the best to come out of college in decade.

With the second pick overall, the Giants selected Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, who many football experts consider the best running back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson came out of Oklahoma in 2007.

Barkley, who entered the draft after his junior season, has all the ingredients to become a great. He has quickness, speed, strength, character and can pass protect. He also can catch and is a dynamic returner.

“He’s a tremendous talent,” Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said. “You put the film on of a defensive guy and if they’re playing Penn State, then I’m watching Saquon. He’s one of those guys that my mother could have scouted. She could have figured that one out.”

The Giants need help, coming off a 3-13 season that cost coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese their jobs.

Drafting Barkley gives new coach Pat Shurmur a player who can do it all, while showing the Giants believe the 37-year-old Manning has more in the tank.

In three seasons at Penn State, Barkley finished as the Nittany Lions’ second all-time leading rusher with 3,843 yards, including 1,271 this past season when he scored 138 points. He had 18 rushing touchdowns, pushing his career total to school-record 43. His 53 overall touchdowns also are a school record.

Coming out of the backfield, he had 54 receptions this past season. His 1,195 career yards receiving is a school record for a running back.

Barkley ended his career as the school’s career all-purpose yards leader with 5,538 yards.

Orleans Darkwa led the Giants with 751 yards rushing in 2017, running behind a weak offense line.

Saquon Barkley, RB, 5-11,

230, Coplay, Pa./Whitehall

-2017 unanimous NCAA Consensus All-American

-Is the 42nd Consensus All-American in program history.

-Is the 14th unanimously-selected Consensus All-American in program history.

-2017 All-America first team selection

-AFCA first-team running back, Sporting News first-team athlete, Associated Press first-team all-purpose, Football Writers Association of America first-team all-purpose and Walter Camp first-team running back.

-Is the 100th first-team All-American in Penn State history.

-2017 Paul Hornung Award winner (most versatile player in college football)

-Finished fourth in the 2017 Heisman Trophy voting

-Earned All-America honors from Sports Illustrated (1st team all-purpose; 2nd team running back), The Athletic (1st team all-purpose), SB Nation (1st team running back; honorable mention kick returner), USA Today (2nd team running back) and College Sports Madness (1st team running back; 2nd team kick returner).

-2017 Chicago Tribune Silver Football winner (best player in the Big Ten)

-Is the fifth player since the award’s inception in 1924 to claim the honor twice, joining the elite list of Minnesota’s Paul Giel (1952-53), Ohio State’s Archie Griffin (1973-74), Indiana’s Anthony Thompson (1988-89) and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller (2012-13).

-Selected as a finalist for the Maxwell Award, Doak Walker Award, Lombardi Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.

-Is the second player in conference history to win three Big Ten Conference major awards, joining Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers (Defensive Player of the Year, Linebacker of the Year, Return Specialist of the Year) in 2016.

-2017 Graham-George Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.

-2017 Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year.

-2017 Rodgers-Dwight Big Ten Return Specialist of the Year.

-First-team all-conference running back (coaches & media).

-First-team All-Big Ten return specialist (coaches & media).

-Named Associated Press Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and All-Big Ten first team, as well as Pro Football Focus All-Big Ten first team.

-Is 1-of-5 student-athlete in the FBS with four all-purpose plays of 80 yards or longer in 2017.

-Ranked No. 2 in the FBS and leads the Big Ten in all-purpose yards (179.15).

-Ranked No. 5 nationally and leads the Big Ten in kickoff return touchdowns (2).

-Is the 24th FBS player to produce 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in a season since 2000.

-Was tied for No. 4 nationally and leads the Big Ten lead in total touchdowns (23).

-Ranked No. 9 in the FBS and leads the Big Ten in rushing touchdowns (18).

-Owns nine games with 200-plus all-purpose yards in his career (four in 2016, five in 2017).

-His six Player of the Week honors in 2017 (four offensive, two special teams) are the most in a single season in Big Ten history.

-Ranks No. 2 on the single season all-purpose yards list with 2,329 yards in 2017, just the second player in program history to eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yard mark (Larry Johnson, 2,655; 2002).

-Set the single game all-purpose yards mark with 358 at Iowa (9/23/17), accounting for 211 yards rushing, 94 yards receiving and 53 yards on kickoff return, topping Curt Warner’s previous mark of 341 vs. Syracuse in 1981.

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