The New York Giants passed on an heir apparent to two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning and took a running back that many think is the best to come out of college in a decade. With the second pick overall, the Giants selected Penn State's Saquon Barkley, who many football experts consider the best running back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson came out of Oklahoma in 2007.
Following the Giants, the New York Jets selected USC quarterback Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night — and they didn't have to endure a horrific season to get him, after all.
Since the glory days of Joe Namath nearly 50 years ago, the Jets have been searching for a homegrown QB to deliver a similar type of sustained success as the face of the franchise. New York is counting on the athletic and strong-armed Darnold to be their man.
Barkley, who entered the draft after his junior season, has all the ingredients to become one of the greats. He has quickness, speed, strength, character and can pass protect. He also can catch and is a dynamic returner.
"He's a tremendous talent," Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said. "You put the film on of a defensive guy and if they're playing Penn State, then I'm watching Saquon. He's one of those guys that my mother could have scouted. She could have figured that one out."
The Giants need help, coming off a 3-13 season that cost coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese their jobs.
Drafting Barkley gives new coach Pat Shurmur a player who can do it all while showing the Giants believe the 37-year-old Manning has more in the tank.
It seemed unlikely for the last several months that Darnold would end up with the Jets, especially after their 5-11 season didn't quite play into the "Suck For Sam" campaign pushed by some fans who preferred even more losses in the hopes that a year of misery would translate to a greater chance to land the star quarterback.
Darnold has been lauded for his leadership, poise and quick release, along with his ability to extend plays and get himself and the offense out of trouble. The Capistrano Beach, California, native played just two seasons at USC and went 20-4 as the starter, but showed enough potential to make scouts drool.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Darnold redshirted his first year, and then was selected the Pac-12 offensive player of the year. He led USC to a victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl, setting the game's record with five touchdown passes. Darnold also won the Archie Griffin Award, given to college football's most valuable player for the entire season — and was the first freshman to do so.
Watch the NFL Draft on Fox 5 and the NFL Network.