Pump The Brakes On Sam Over Saquon by Vincent Zahler
Since the Giants passed on quarterback Sam Darnold and took a running back in Saquon Barkley instead with the second overall pick, there has been a great deal of loud criticism of the decision. Questioned all offseason and the criticism increased in tenacity after the first 2 weeks of the NFL season. Sam Darnold put on a show in primetime in week 1 and the Giants are 0-2 while their stadium mates are 1-1. The backlash towards the Giants front office sounded much like this... “How do you take a running back over a quarterback!”, “He fell right into your lap!”, “Eli is old! You need to take qb in that position!”, and “How often will you be able to draft that high again!?” Somehow and suddenly, drafting a quarterback in the top 10 became a no-brainer for a team riddled with holes. Not sure when this became the norm but the notion doesn’t hold up well historically. To show that, lets take a look at the last 20 years of quarterbacks selected in the top 10 of the draft. Year/Pick Number Selection/Bust/Total 1998- 1. Peyton Manning 2. Ryan Leaf 1/2 1999- 1. Tim Couch 2. Donovan McNabb 3. Akili Smith 1/3 2000- None 2001- 1. Michael Vick 1/1 2002- 1. David Carr 3. Joey Harrington 0/2 2003- 1. Carson Palmer 7. Byron Leftwich 1/2 2004- 1. Eli Manning 4. Philip RIvers 2/2 2005- 1. Alex Smith 1/1 2006- 3. Vince Young 10. Matt Leinart 0/2 2007- 1. JaMarcus Russell 0/1 2008- 1. Matt Ryan 1/1 2009- 1. Matt Stafford 5. Mark Sanchez 1/1 2010- 1. Sam Bradford 1/1 2011- 1. Cam Newton 8. Jake Locker 1/2 2012- 1. Andrew Luck 2. RG3 3. Ryan Tannehill 2/3 2013- None 2014 3. Blake Bortles 1/1 2015 1. Jameis Winston 2. Marcus Mariota TBD 2016 1. Jared Goff 2. Carson Wentz 2/2 2017 2. Mitchell Trubisky TBD Just by going by those that haven’t been total busts, barely 60% of the quarterbacks drafted in the top 10 going back 20 years had some level of success. Now many may rightfully argue that this is a quarterback driven league. While completely true, that makes all the more important to pass on someone you’re unsure of. A coach and general manager can select a draft bust at any other position than quarterback and still keep their job. If they take a quarterback with a top 10 pick, they’re betting their jobs on him. If he goes down, everything goes down with him. That’s a lot to risk especially if you’re not entirely confident with the prospect. Essentially betting your career on 20 something prospect who based on the history, is about as much as a sure thing as betting black at the roulette table. Money and cap management also play a part. With the way the collective bargaining agreement is set up, quarterbacks are absolutely breaking the bank. Aaron Rodgers’ recent extension has him exceeding a $30,000,000.00 cap hit in 2 years. That number will inevitably be eclipsed by some of the younger quarterbacks still on rookie deals like Carson Wentz and Jared Goff. It seems as though the new formula to win is to have a fine roster in place and place a young quarterback still on a rookie contract to capitalize on the talent that the is able to afford around him since it’s only a matter of time where a massive pay day will lead to a purge of team stars. Look no further than the Seattle Seahawks for an example. When Russell Wilson was taking the league by storm on a 3rd rookie contract, the team was able to pay the Richard Sherman’s, and Earl Thomas’s of the world. Since Russell Wilson cashed in, the team has been a shell of itself despite having a top 5 quarterback leading the team. Sam Darnold may very well become the next great quarterback in this league, He checks all the boxes. He looks the part and is mature way beyond his years. Saquon Barkley has the possibility of being the next great running back. However, even if Saquon Barkley were to forge a Ladanian Tomlinson/Marshall Faulk career but the Giants lack stability at the quarterback position while Darnold establishes himself as a true franchise qb, it will, without question, go down as a whiff by David Gettleman and co. Its risk vs reward. Drafting any other position than quarterback in the top 10 is like entering into an engagement with the significant other. There’s a sign of confidence and trust to see how well everything will be going forward onto the next step, That being said, if something happens, it can end at anytime without too much complications and you can simply try again. Drafting a quarterback is signing the marriage certificate. If it doesn’t pan out, the ending will be long and painful and even then, it will follow you forever. Don’t get married unless you absolutely love your significant other to the point that you’ll bet your future on them and don’t draft a quarterback top 10 unless you’re willing to do the same with him. The Giants simply weren’t confident in Sam Darnold draft him 2nd overall. Let’s see how everything plays out before we shame the Giants for not being willing to get married at first sight.