The Giants have had a pretty good idea, internally anyway, that Saquon Barkley would be their pick if he were available at No. 2 in the draft. That has given coach Pat Shurmur plenty of time to consider how he’ll be using him.
“In my spare time, certainly,” Shurmur said of how much he has been brainstorming and doodling plays. “The running back is an easy guy to fit in an offense. You have to turn around and hand it to him. It doesn’t take a genius to do that. Then a lot of times when you try and throw the ball downfield and they cover them all, you can dump him off the ball, or you can feature him in the pass game.”
Shurmur has coached a number of effective runners, probably the best being LeSean McCoy when he was with the Eagles.
“I have seen the effects of a really, really good running back not only on the offense, but on the team,” Shurmur said. “You have to run the football not just for your offense, but for your team. I have seen the effect that a great running back can have on teams. I was excited about the fact that he was the best player in the draft and I was excited about the fact that we were able to draft him.”
Figuring out how to use him, as Shurmur said, shouldn’t be much of a challenge. The hard part may be figuring out when not to. Shurmur pretty much ruled out the idea of Barkley being a returner on kickoffs and punts as he was in college, at least as a primary option.
“We’re going to get him going as soon as we can get him here and then we’re going to train him as a running back,” Shurmur said. “He’ll perform return duties, but typically not your first returner. You can give him the ball enough times. I think when it comes down to touches and whatnot, we can give him the ball other ways.”
Dave Gettleman compared Barkley to a five-tool player in baseball.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to pick five tools,” he said.
The one thing the Giants know right now is that they intend to have Barkley on the field a lot. Maybe even giving him 25 or more touches a game?
“He could handle that type of a load if need be,” Shurmur said. “We’ll just have to see as we go and put this thing together. He’s one of a bunch of guys that we’re going to get in the mix — Eli [Manning], him, Odell [Beckham Jr.], Evan [Engram] and ideally if we can spread the ball around and block him well, [Sterling] Shepard. I mean, we’ve got a lot of really good players. And he’s going to be one of them.”