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Louis Riddick: Strong sentiment for Saquon Barkley in Giants building

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Barkley's journey to top NFL prospect (0:54)

Witness Saquon Barkley's hard work and transformation from an undersized kid to mega NFL prospect. (0:54)

There is a strong case to be made that the New York Giants should select a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft. Eli Manning hasn’t played well in recent years and will be 38 before this upcoming season ends. He’s clearly on the back nine of his career, and his backup, last year’s third-round pick Davis Webb, is an unknown, having never taken a snap in an NFL game.

All of this still wouldn’t sway ESPN analyst Louis Riddick to select a quarterback if he were running the Giants. Riddick interviewed for the general manager position that eventually went to Dave Gettleman late last year.

Riddick conceded a compelling argument could be made to draft a quarterback, but he would take Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 pick.

“I think Saquon Barkley is a special kid, I really do,” said Riddick, who has been studying players in preparation for being part of ESPN’s draft telecast. “He will help Eli in terms of giving him someone who he can turn around and hand the ball off to 25-28 times a game. I think his versatility as far as being able to catch the ball out of the backfield, his willingness to pass-protect, his ability to help this offense overall and ... ball control, which will make the defense better ...

“I think he presents something that will help this football team not just offensively, but defensively as well because of how the complementary football thing will come into play. That will be my pick.”

No Josh Rosen. No Josh Allen. No Baker Mayfield or even Sam Darnold if he’s available. Riddick would look elsewhere for the Giants.

In his opinion, it’s Barkley or North Carolina State edge rusher Bradley Chubb as the two best options.

“My two players would be either Saquon or Chubb. I’d probably go Saquon,” Riddick said on a conference call with reporters. “And I have a feeling that there is a strong, strong, strong sentiment within that building for Saquon Barkley based upon my experience there, if you know what I mean.”

Barkley is the highest-graded player in this year’s draft, according to Scouts Inc. He has a grade of 97. Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson and Chubb are next at 95.

Chubb would merit consideration at No. 2 for Riddick in part because of his fit.

“It will be hard because there is another guy who I think will project very, very well into the scheme James Bettcher will run there, and that is obviously Bradley Chubb, who can play in a two-point [stance], play out of a three-point. He’s very multiple like that. So he’s just like Chandler Jones, the same way Bettcher used Chandler Jones down in Arizona,” Riddick said. “A guy who can go from ... they can play a 3-4 or 4-3 and stand the guy up and make it look like a 3-4, and that is the kind of guy that Bradley Chubb is. He’s a guy who is multiple like that. Really, when you think about it, he’d be perfect for a team like if Bill Belichick could ever get his hands on a guy like Bradley Chubb, look out. It would be lights out. That’s the kind of player that I think would fit well with the Giants as well.”

The Giants should be in a position of power in the draft. They will likely have a crack at the best non-quarterback and most teams’ No. 1 player on the board, with the Cleveland Browns expected to take a quarterback with the top pick.

It’s an enviable spot. And Riddick wouldn’t want to trade back unless a team like the Buffalo Bills is willing to set up the Giants in the draft for the next two or three years. It would take a monster offer.

“[The Giants] can’t lose if they stay where they are. They can’t lose,” Riddick said. “They will have their pick of either a very good quarterback or a hell of a running back or a pass-rusher who I think is better than last year’s No. 1 overall pick. Bradley Chubb is better to me than Myles Garrett at the same point in time.”

Riddick agrees that Barkley and Chubb can be viewed as those potential “gold jacket” guys that Gettleman covets. And he would choose between them at No. 2 if it were his decision.