Two LTs say Saquon Barkley can be a Gold Jacket guy
Dave Gettleman was the football coach at Spackenkill High in Poughkeepsie when then-Giants general manager George Young changed the fortunes of the franchise forever by drafting a Hall of Fame Giant who would revolutionize defense in the NFL.
It was inside the Grand Ballroom of the New York Sheraton Hotel when then-commissioner Pete Rozelle announced:
“New York Giants first-round selection: Lawrence Taylor, linebacker, North Carolina.”
“There was a possibility I was gonna be the first player picked, but when George Rogers was the first player picked [by the Saints], I got up, went to the refrigerator, got a beer, by the time I got back, they were on No. 3 already,” Taylor told The Post on Wednesday, and laughed.
Thirty-seven years later, it is Gettleman who is entrusted with bringing the New York Football Giants back. With the second-overall pick of Thursday night’s draft at AT&T Stadium.
And the Gold Jacket Giant who wore No. 56 said he believes Saquon Barkley has a chance to be another Gold Jacket Giant.
“Yes, absolutely,” Taylor said. “I’ve seen some of highlights and stuff, he’s got some great speed, got great leg strength. And it looks like he makes good running decisions when he makes ’em.
“Out of that draft there’s gonna be several Gold Jacket Guys, the problem is trying to figure which ones they are.”
Bet on Saquon Barkley.
LaDainian Tomlinson, the modern-day LT, another Gold Jacket Guy, a Gold Jacket running back with the Chargers and Jets, is making that Gold Jacket Guy bet.
“He checks the boxes in terms of being a three-down back … but then, when you look a little bit deeper, and you see the size, the agility, the passion that he plays with, the charisma off the field … all these things lead you to a guy that is a franchise-type player, for a long time, 10-12 years we’re talking,” Tomlinson told The Post. “He’s gonna be with one franchise, be the face of their franchise, and he has an opportunity to be a generational-type player — the home run-hitting ability, he can take it 80 on any play, whether it’s a toss or a route out of the backfield. I don’t see any holes in the guy’s game. He’s big enough to be able to protect the quarterback, he’s a willing blocker, all those things.
“Over the last, I would say over the last 10-12 years since Adrian Peterson came out, the only guys I think that we’re close to Adrian in terms of the evaluation was Todd Gurley and it’s this kid. And they’re even better receivers than Adrian coming out.”
Barkley reminds the NFL Network analyst of several running backs.
“His cutting ability, his balance — I can say Barry [Sanders], myself and Emmitt [Smith] in terms of his agility, being able to hop from one hole to the next, explode through the hole, stop on a dime, back up. You’ll see him do all that stuff, jump over people, keep his balance,” Tomlinson said. “When you think about the power, he has the power of a Todd Gurley to run through tacklers.
“But here’s the thing that’s different: I don’t know if I’ve seen a big running back like Saquon being able to run routes out of the backfield like he has been able to do. I was 5-11, 220 running routes. But that’s 230, 6-feet. He’s a lot bigger.”
Tomlinson was drafted fifth in 2001. There is a school of thought that maintains it is too early to draft a running back with the second-overall pick.
“This is the thing that always irritates me. … They try to use the claim of, ‘Oh, well running backs’ lifespan is so short and the quarterback’s gonna get you 15-20,” he said. “Here’s the thing: A running back is gonna make instant impact Day 1 he comes into your team. Might even be a Pro Bowler his first year. That quarterback, most of the time, is gonna have to sit two or three years before he even becomes the player that you want him to be. Of course he’s gonna play 12, 15 years. So what’s wrong with giving you 10 strong from Day 1? I’ll take that at No. 2.”
Tomlinson, who played 11 years, was asked about Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. on the field together.
“The Giants are set already to win now,” he said. “They really have an opportunity to really take back control of that division in the NFC East if they draft Barkley. In my opinion, Saquon is gonna give you more than what Ezekiel [Elliott] gave the Cowboys. He’s gonna give you the right stuff off the field as well. He’s not gonna embarrass the organization.
“Obviously, Eli [Manning] has had some struggles over the last couple of years. The best thing for an older quarterback that’s aging, is to take some of the pressure off of him. And I don’t know what other way to do it than to draft this kid Saquon and put him in the backfield Day 1 and relieve some of that pressure off Eli.”
Gold Jacket Guy.
“No disrespect to [defensive end DE Bradley] Chubb, but if you’re looking 10 years down the line, I can almost guarantee you that the guy that will be a generation-type player and a guy that’s been talked about as a Hall of Famer, will be Saquon Barkley,” Tomlinson said.
There are no Lawrence Taylors in this draft, much less in any draft.
But maybe, just maybe, there is the LT of running backs waiting for Gettleman to change the face of the flagship franchise. Either LT.
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