Here’s Why the Giants Want to Use Saquon Barkley as a Wide Receiver: WATCH

Saquon Barkley

NFL/Twitter The New York Giants want to use Saquon Barkley in a variety of ways this season.

The 2022 NFL season should be an interesting one for New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley.

Not only is Barkley entering the final year of his rookie contract, but his role in New York’s offense is reportedly expanding. According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, the Giants moved Barkley all over the offensive formation during OTA and minicamp workouts this spring. They motioned him out of the backfield, lined him up in the slot and even used him as an outside receiving option in some cases.

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Jordan Raanan of ESPN had a similar takeaway after watching Barkley this spring.

“Most notable observation from OTA #9 was that Saquon Barkley was getting a TON of work as a receiver,” Raanan wrote on Twitter earlier this month. “His involvement in the passing game appears on the rise.”

It sounds like the Giants, under first-year head coach Brian Daboll, plan to use Barkley’s receiving skills a lot more than the previous coaching staffs did. And when you go back and look at the film, it’s pretty easy to see why.

Barkley only scored four touchdowns last season, and two of them were receptions when he was lined up outside the numbers. The first one came in a Week 4 win over the New Orleans Saints, and the second one came in a Week 14 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Against the Saints, Barkley blew right past Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore (who appeared to be sitting on a short route). The safety help was late, and quarterback Daniel Jones dropped the ball in quick enough for Barkley to make one cut and turn the play into a 54-yard house call.

Against the Chargers, Barkley legitimately broke the ankles of cornerback Michael Davis with a slant-and-go route (AKA “sluggo”). Barkley created so much separation that even backup quarterback Mike Glennon couldn’t miss him in the end zone.

Daboll’s staff must have watched this film and realized that Barkley could be a more useful weapon in the passing game.

Look Back at Saquon Barkley’s Rookie Year

Look back at Saquon Barkley’s receiving production as a rookie, and you’ll quickly realize it’s an element the Giants have been missing on offense ever since. Barkley ranked 13th among all players (and second among all running backs) with 91 receptions that year, and his 721 receiving yards helped him lead the entire NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,028. He also scored four of his team-high 15 touchdowns as a pass-catcher that year.

In just his second game as a pro — a 20-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys — Barkley set career-high marks for both receptions (14) and receiving targets (16).

Barkley is clearly capable of handling a big workload as a receiver, but the Giants simply have not been using him that way. In 28 games played since his rookie year, Barkley has barely eclipsed his 2018 receiving numbers with a total of 99 catches for 761 yards and four touchdowns.

Brian Daboll Sounds Ready to Unleash Barkley

If this spring was a test to see how much Barkley could handle, it sounds like he passed the test with flying colors. Daboll was recently asked about Barkley’s potential impact this season and spoke in rather glowing terms.

“He’s been good,” Daboll said, via SNY Giants. “He’s been able to do everything we’ve asked him to do … I see a talented player. I’m glad he’s on our team. I look forward to working with him. He’s been great since I’ve been here.”

Daboll is charged with reviving the Giants’ offense, and resurrecting Barkley’s receiving impact will go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

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