The New York Giants selected Penn State standout Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft, and it was exactly what the star-studded running back envisioned for his future in football.
Barkley’s friendship with Odell Beckham Jr. dates back to before the draft even took place, and it has only grown in strength since joining the team.
Here’s what Barkley had to say about his relationship with OBJ, according to NJ.com:
“We talked about it. We talked the Giants drafting me into existence. When I used to hang out with Odell, I’d tell him; ‘I’m going to be a Giant, I want to be a Giant, I want to be a part of that team.’
“Odell’s a very special player. He’s a very special person. That’s the biggest thing about Odell, he’s a very special person. The things he does, and the way he prepares is really admirable.
“I do believe that we can have an impact on this league. But, when I say ‘we,’ it’s never just Odell, and me. It’s not just the Saquon and Odell duo. It’s not the Saquon show. That wide receiving corps around Odell is extremely talented. You have a great quarterback. You have a great stable of running backs.
“Obviously, I’m the first-round running back and a lot of people are talking about me, but Jonathan Stewart has been in the league for a very long time, you have Wayne Gallman who’s a young guy but he’s very talented. We have a great room. This whole team is in a really great spot. The vibe and the feeling of the locker room. You can see the tradition that you have to live up to. This is something so special, but you have to take care of what you have to take care of every single day and that’s working hard and practicing.”
You can hear the humbleness seeping from the words of Barkley, who’s just happy to be playing the game he loves on the team he wanted to play for. Despite all of the controversy surrounding Beckham at every turn, he’s been a stellar mentor to Barkley, and has really matured over the 2018 offseason. Beckham has attended mini-camps without question or hold-out, and has taken Barkley under his wing to establish a connection. That relationship will only continue to improve and help the players on the field.
The star receiver has experienced the pros and cons of being in the spotlight, and he can now provide that essential information to Barkley who will shortly enter a world that is caked in media followings and an all seeing eye.
“I was really excited. I was talking to one of the head scouts from the Giants the day I got drafted, and I said to him ‘Will Hernandez?’ With a wink and a smile, and he just kind of smiled back. The thing about Will is obviously the talent is there. You watch film and you see he just dominates kids. He dominated college football. That’s obvious.
“But, what people don’t see is that UTEP was something like 0-12, I don’t think they won a game, and the fact that he was still so self-motivated to go out there and punish defenders every single game when he had every chance to just give it all up and not care with the game over and no chance for them to win, just shows you the character he has and why he’s going to be great. He’s going to be successful in this league, and I’m excited to play with him.”
Having a player as humble and appreciative as Barkley simply improves the team as a whole, and him knowing the struggles and mentality of his teammates only strengthens the relationships he’s currently building. The Giants made it a priority to build a warming and confident culture around the young rookie running back, and Beckham Jr. is the one leading those efforts – a matured and confident super-athlete.