The New York Giants drafted one of college football's biggest stars and the Redskins added a franchise QB, but who will be the NFC East's best new addition? Our experts weigh in.
Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter: Saquon Barkley How can it not be Barkley? He was the No. 2 pick in the draft. He was the best player in the draft, according to a lot of teams. The Redskins traded for Alex Smith. The Eagles traded for Michael Bennett. The Cowboys’ biggest acquisition was Allen Hurns. That leaves Barkley. In order to make this work with Barkley, the Giants have to steal a page from the 2016 Cowboys and make sure their offense revolves around the running back. At Penn State, Barkley showed he can do a little bit of everything. Odell Beckham Jr. might not like that, but his life could be a lot easier if Barkley is as successful as Ezekiel Elliott was as a rookie, when he led the NFL in rushing two years ago.
John Keim, ESPN Washington Redskins reporter: Alex Smith. I went back and forth on this one, trying to decide between Barkley and Smith. I think Barkley is the most talented; he is, after all, the second overall selection. But Smith is the most important because of his impact and his past body of work. At this point, we don’t really know what Barkley will do (I think he’ll be really good) and the return of Beckham is perhaps a bigger deal in New York. Smith is coming off his best season and the Redskins have replaced Kirk Cousins with a more seasoned (and athletic) version of him -- and that will pay dividends. Despite the rocky start to Smith’s career, he’s made three Pro Bowls in the last five seasons.
Jordan Raanan, ESPN New York Giants reporter: Saquon Barkley. He was the No. 2 pick for a reason, and running back is a position where rookies can make an immediate impact. Kareem Hunt and Leonard Fournette each topped 1,000 yards rushing last season. Ezekiel Elliott had 1,994 total yards and 16 touchdowns as a rookie the previous season. Barkley is going to make an immediate impact with the Giants, maybe even more as a receiver than a runner. It was obvious this spring he has the explosiveness, route-running ability and hands to create mismatches and havoc in the passing game. Linebackers and safeties had no chance. The rest of the NFL will see it for themselves this season. Barkley will make a monster as a rookie.
Tim McManus, ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter: Saquon Barkley. The Dallas Cowboys are living proof of what a difference a young stud running back can make. Elliott burst onto the scene in 2016 to help Dallas to a 13-3 record after going 4-12 the year prior. His dominance had a relieving effect on the entire team, from QB Dak Prescott to a defense that ranked third in opponent time of possession. Barkley, similarly, will make things easier for Eli Manning and the rest of his Giants brethren, and should help New York get off the mat following a 3-13 campaign. The extent of his impact will be determined in part by whether the offensive line can get its act together; Zeke was blessed in that regard.