Well before the New York Giants used the second overall pick of the NFL Draft on running back Saquon Barkley, new coach Pat Shurmur took a closer look at what he had at quarterback.
Shurmur already held a “high opinion” of Eli Manning. He simply wanted to drill a bit deeper into where his game stood after the 2017 season.
‘I’ve got a very high opinion of Eli’
“And so what I did was I just sat down in a dark room and watched all the tape from last year, kind of (to form) a new opinion,” Shurmur told Bob Papa and Ross Tucker on The Opening Drive. “And it didn’t change. I’ve got a very high opinion of Eli.
“And then I had an opportunity to work with him this past week in this extra minicamp that we had and it confirmed everything I was thinking. Eli’s still got it, we’re all in on Eli and I’m looking forward to having Eli help us move the New York Football Giants forward.”
‘Our picking Saquon was more about Saquon than it was about the quarterbacks’
However, the fact the Giants are sticking with Manning and used their first choices on a running back didn’t mean they were down on the four quarterbacks taken within the first 10 picks.
“I think, when you talk about the quarterbacks we evaluated, as it relates to the second pick in the draft, our picking Saquon was more about Saquon than it was about the quarterbacks,” he said. “We really liked the quarterbacks that everybody’s talking about. It was just a matter of we felt Saquon was the best player.”
‘He has the ability to stick it up in the hole and then, if he gets hit, he can keep his balance’
Shurmur intends to take full advantage of Barkley’s tremendous versatility.
“Saquon’s a three-down running back and I say that because, really, the first thing you look for, in my opinion, when you’re evaluating a runner is, ‘Can he catch the football?’ Which he can do,” the coach said. “And then he has collision balance. He has the ability to stick it up in the hole and then, if he gets hit, he can keep his balance and keep moving as a runner. And then he’s got a great set of legs, so that when we ask him to pass protect, he can step up there and block a blitzer. He has all those things and you can use him any way you want.
‘He does all those things at an elite level’
“You can certainly turn around and hand him the ball; it doesn’t take a genius to do that. But you can also feature him in the passing game from the backfield, you can use him as a blocker and then, certainly, you can detach him with his skill set and kind of use him as a wideout as a threat in the passing game as a receiver-type guy. And he does all those things at an elite level. Now, we just can’t wait to get him in there and get him going.”
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