ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projected running back Saquon Barkley to the Giants with the No. 2 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. But he did so without much conviction.
Kiper, on a conference call on Wednesday, said he had to make the same difficult decision that the Giants will have to make in a few weeks.
“Do you build around Eli [Manning] and help Eli over, say, the next three to five years? Or do you go for the heir apparent?” he asked aloud. “That’s a tough call. I could make a case for either one.”
In fact, a few weeks ago, he did make a case for the other one when he had UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen going to the Giants in his first mock draft. He said on Wednesday that he could still see Rosen going at No. 2, even though he dropped him to No. 11 and the Dolphins in this latest prediction. He called it a “gut feel.”
“It’s a combination of things,” he said of why he eventually landed on Barkley.
One of those things, of course, is the Penn State running back himself.
“It’s Barkley being a really good runner-receiver-blocker,” he said. “Kind of being a missing link and they don’t have that right now. Helping Eli get back to where he was, help this team turn things around quickly.”