NY Giants’ Saquon Barkley a top RB, but is he also a cautionary tale?
Saquon Barkley aims to return from a torn ACL, and return to a high level for the NY Giants this season
Much of the NY Giants’ optimism on offense entering the 2021 season is centered around the return of running back Saquon Barkley.
Following a dynamic and electrifying rookie campaign in 2018, Barkley has battled through his share of injuries — a high-ankle sprain in 2019, and a torn ACL that ended his 2020 season midway through a Week 2 clash with the Chicago Bears.
Through his first two seasons, Barkley has averaged 4.7 yards per carry, scored 17 rushing touchdowns, and added six receiving scores.
Entering this fall, Pro Football Focus lists Barkley as the No. 7 ranked running back in the league:
"One of the most talented backs in the league, Saquon Barkley embodies the cautionary tale of the position, with both injury and environment combining to limit his effectiveness so far at the pro level. Barkley showed what he was capable of as a rookie, but that is his only season that generated a PFF grade above 80.0."
Is Saquon Barkley a cautionary tale for the NY Giants?
There is no doubt that Barkley is one of the premier players at his position.
Unfortunately for the former Penn State standout, he happens to play a position that has become steadily devalued in recent years.
With that said, there seems to be a renewed commitment among competitive teams to building quality backfield stables with multiple players capable of becoming feature backs at a moment’s notice.
Barkley has that explosiveness and versatility to be a foundational cornerstone.
However, how Barkley returns from his torn ACL and answers the nagging durability question might determine his long-term upside.
NY Giants legend Tiki Barber believes Barkley will be able to put those concerns to bed.
“Saquon’s ceiling is limitless,” Barber recently told FanSided. “Because he is a grounded athlete and extremely athletic. To stay healthy he will need to regain comfort on his reconstructed knee, which means he will need to learn to run smarter, not harder, so that he does not continue to put himself in a dangerous position. Running through contact will help.”
Matt Lombardo is FanSided’s National NFL Insider and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday. Email Matt: Matt.Lombardo@FanSided.com, Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL