NFL Hall of Famer Shares Strong Stance on Giants’ Saquon Barkley

Ladainian Tomlinson ranks Saquon Barkley Among NFL's best running backs

Getty Giants running back Saquon Barkley.

Often emulated, rarely duplicated, LaDainian Tomlinson was in a league of his own back in the day. Well ahead of his time, the NFL Hall of Famer was the type of dual-threat playmaker that helped usher in the new wave of the modern-day NFL running back.

The seventh-leading rusher in league history (13,684 yards), Tomlinson was just as much of a threat in the passing game as he was on the ground. His 624 receptions trail only Marshall Faulk and Larry Centers for most career catches by a running back.

With all that said, it’s fair to assume Tomlinson knows a thing or two about what an elite three-down running back looks like — and he’s certain that Giants star Saquon Barkley falls under that category. However, he’s got his doubts on when exactly he’ll live up to that billing.

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Tomlinson Ranks Barkley Among the NFL’s Top Running Backs

Tomlinson, now an NFL Network analyst, has no questions regarding Barkley’s skill level. In fact, the Chargers legend makes an argument that there may be no back in football more talented than the Penn State product. With that said, injury concerns held Barkley back from claiming the top spot in Tomlinson’s most recent running back rankings. Still, the 24-year-old has shown enough promise to secure the No. 4 spot on Tomlinson’s list, even outpacing big names such as Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott along the way.

“Listen, this guy here is arguably the most talented running back, the most explosive running back in the National Football League,” Tomlinson said of Barkley. “But he’s coming off an ACL injury that he had repaired, and also had his meniscus repaired. I believe it’s going to be slow billing in the beginning for Saquon Barkley. But without question, this man is a home run threat every time he touches the football. He’s going to add a certain dimension to that offense that they didn’t have last year.”

PFF Ranks Giants RBs Among NFL Backfields

In 2018, Barkley led the league in yards from scrimmage, posting 2,028 total yards en route to earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. However, since then, he’s been limited to just 15 games, amassing a total of 1,535 yards from scrimmage over that span.

Barkley is currently rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season and is expected to be a limited participant throughout training camp. To help ease the pressure off Barkley’s shoulders, the team has gone out of their way to bulk up the depth chart behind him this offseason. While they did lose Wayne Gallman in free agency, the team added both veteran DeVontae Booker and former Eagles Super Bowl hero Corey Clement into the fold. They also used a sixth-round pick on Arizona’s Gary Brightwell and claimed Ex-Jaguar Ryquell Armstead off of waivers back in May.

Yet, despite the new additions, Pro Football Focus isn’t sold on the unit as a whole, ranking the Giants’ backfield 12th overall in the NFL.


Saquon Barkley is one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL when healthy. That was clear in a 2018 rookie season where Barkley was the only running back in the league with rushing and receiving grades north of 80.0. The problem is that he hasn’t been fully healthy in the two years since. Barkley’s production took a hit in 2019 while battling a high ankle sprain, and his season ended in Week 2 last year with a torn ACL.

Those injury concerns, along with a lack of quality options behind Barkley on the depth chart, keep New York outside of the top 10, despite how electric Barkley is when he’s 100%.


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