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Who's the best back in the NFL? Giants' Saquon Barkley: 'Myself'

Giants running back Saquon Barkley #26 walks the

Giants running back Saquon Barkley #26 walks the field following a victory over the Chicago Bears in a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on Aug. 16, 2019. Credit: Daniel De Mato

Just in time for fantasy draft season, Saquon Barkley would like to make something perfectly clear: He believes he is the best running back in the NFL.

Barkley delivered his opinion Saquon-style on Tuesday night — calmly, respectfully and with as much humility as possible, given the message — but deliver it he did, in response to a question from Terrell Davis.

Davis and fellow Hall of Famers Barry Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson had been talking about the best backs in the NFL during a panel discussion at an NFL Network event in Manhattan to promote the league’s 100th season.

Finally, Davis turned to Barkley and said, “Let’s ask him.”

The Giants’ second-year man promptly responded, “Personally, I’m going to say myself.”

Davis, who like Tomlinson had named Todd Gurley No. 1 but with Barkley closing fast, said, “You have to think that . . . If you don’t believe you’re the best in the game, you don’t need to be playing this game.”

Speaking to reporters later, Barkley was asked whether the question had put him in an uncomfortable spot, or whether he thought it was an easy one.

“It’s easy,” he said, then listed several of the NFL’s best backs, including the Jets’ Le’Veon Bell, and said how much respect he has for them. “But no, I didn’t feel uncomfortable with that question.”

Sanders named Bell and Ezekiel Elliott as his top two backs but added, “Obviously, it’s only a matter of time before that distinction belongs to Saquon.”

Said Davis: “Saquon is certainly somebody who if you were building a team right now, who would be your first back taken, it would probably be this man sitting to my left.”

Barkley is a student of running backs history, with Sanders No. 1 on his favorites list, which made sharing a panel with the three Hall of Famers a heady experience.

Everything about his one NFL season has been that way. He still marveled Tuesday about the thrill of meeting Eli Manning for the first time. And he said when he met Tom Brady at the Met Gala in May, Brady praised him, then challenged him.

“He was like, ‘It’s great to do it for one year, but can you do it for five, and then can you do it for 10?’ ” Barkley said. “I’m sitting there at the Met Gala fired up ready to start the season then.”

Barkley was not offended that some of his running back heroes did not name him No. 1 — yet. He appreciated it. But when asked why he thinks he is the best he did not hesitate.

“It’s how I’m raised to believe,” he said. “When I do something and I’m passionate about something I’m going to go 100 percent at it. So when you see me out there, I feel like I’m capable of doing anything you want a running back to do, and I think I can do at a high level. That’s why I think I’m the best back in the league .”

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