New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley ranks atop the list of RBs:
As a preview of the 2020 NFL season, ESPN is releasing the top 10 players at every position, according to a group of over 50 league personnel members. This includes NFL executives, coaches, scouts, and players. On Thursday they tackled the running back position, and the list turned out differently than you might anticipate:
In a poll conducted with more than 50 NFL executives, scouts and players, ESPN ranked the top 10 running backs for this upcoming season. pic.twitter.com/HVWvg6lsYL
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) July 9, 2020
That’s right, Giants fans! Saquon lands at the number one slot, which is a little surprising considering the slightly underwhelming season he had. The fact that he’s recognized as the best in the league, even with a lackluster offensive line over his first two seasons, is a testament to how special of a talent Saquon is.
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While almost everyone can agree that Saquon is at the very least a top-three running back, it was still a little odd seeing him ranked ahead of guys like Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Derrick Henry going into the season considering the fantastic seasons they each are coming off of. McCaffrey had an MVP-level year and was arguably the best offensive player in the game, totaling 2392 yards from scrimmage, nearly 1400 rushing on 287 carries, and just over 1000 receiving on 116 receptions. He added 15 rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns, earning Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors for his dominance in both the running and passing game.
Elliott maintained his steady and consistent production last season as a leader in one of the league’s best offenses as he ran for 1357 yards and 12 touchdowns on 301 carries, adding over 400 yards receiving and two touchdowns on 54 receptions en route to his third Pro Bowl in four seasons.
Henry had an extremely dominant year, as he was arguably the best running back in the league during the second half of the season and in the playoffs as well. He ended the year first in rushing attempts with 303, first in yards with 1540, and tied for first in touchdowns with 16. He didn’t do much in the receiving game, managing only 206 yards and two touchdowns on 18 receptions, but his video-game production on the ground was phenomenal. He made it to his first Pro Bowl and carried the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game.
Saquon had much less in terms of stats compared to those three due to him battling a high ankle sprain for much of the season, which cost him three games, and the poor offensive line he had blocking for him. He still managed to rack up over 1000 yards and six touchdowns on 217 rushing attempts to go along with 438 yards and two touchdowns on 52 receptions.
This season projects to be a huge one for Saquon, however, as he is fully healthy and the Giants offensive line should be much improved. The team also has a new offensive coordinator in longtime Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, and the offensive system he’s bringing is supposed to revolve around Saquon, which bodes well for his production.
It remains to be seen how well Saquon and the Giants will do if and when the season gets underway, but these rankings seem to indicate that people around the NFL seem to share the sentiment that year number three will indeed be a big one for Saquon.