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One-on-one: Which New York football rookie will have the biggest impact this season

Sam Darnold – New York Jets 

BY JOSH SCHWAM

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has been put in an exceptional situation to succeed in 2018. Not only does Darnold have a solid defense to work with, he also has an offensive line that will allow him to have ample time in the pocket. Darnold is set up for drastically more individual success than Barkley.

Darnold has more chances to impact a game as a quarterback than Barkley does as a running back. Being as dismal an offense as the Giants, Barkley will lose chances to make plays as wins slip away.

Sam Darnold was as thrilling a quarterback as there was in the country during his two seasons as the USC starter. He led the Trojans to a Rose Bowl win over Penn State while setting Rose Bowl records for touchdowns and yards.

Darnold is a solid quarterback with a strong arm, but at times he’s struggled with accuracy. Through two games for the Jets, Darnold has thrown three touchdowns and three interceptions. But he’s a gun-slinging risk-taker.

As he develops better chemistry with his receiving core they’ll have a greater chance for success. Darnold’s athleticism and ability to take off and run will add another dimension to the Jets offense.

Darnold is, in effect, the exact opposite of what the Giants have in Eli Manning. At this point in his career, Manning is an immobile, inconsistent quarterback who is well past him prime. Darnold is a young dynamic quarterback whose legs are just as impressive as his arm.

Darnold will control his own fate as a quarterback. Barkley is unable to control the game around him because he has to rely on a subpar group to give him opportunities. Darnold can create opportunities for success through his creativity and playmaking, which is why he’ll have a bigger impact than Barkley.

 

Saquon Barkley – New York Giants

BY ERIC GRAY

Saquon Barkley is a once-in-a-generation talent. Almost all players can improve their work ethic and mental aspects to the game, but there are some abilities that the average athlete can’t live up to. Barkley has those abilities.

At the 2018 NFL Combine, Barkley, a 6-foot, 234-pound running back, had a better bench press than legendary NFL lineman Joe Thomas, a faster 40-yard dash than the great Devin Hester and a higher vertical than All-Pro receiver Julio Jones. Those are tangibles just aren’t coachable.

While in college at Penn State, Saquon won numerous awards, including First-Team All-American, two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and the Paul Hornung Award, given to the most versatile player in college football.

He also holds various records at Penn State, including most career rushing touchdowns, most rushing yards by a freshman, most rushing yards by a sophomore and most total yards in a single game (358).

Barkley was taken second overall by the New York Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft, and immediately burst onto the scene in the Big Apple. In his first regular-season game, Barkley had 11 rushes for 108 yards and a touchdown against, arguably, the best defense in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In week two against the Dallas Cowboys, he struggled running the ball, yet went on to set the New York Giants all-time record for receptions in a game with 14, as he accumulated 108 total yards. Even when Barkley has trouble in the run game, he picks up the slack with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

The argument may be made for Darnold in the case that quarterbacks are arguably more important to a team’s success, and while that situation may be true, the Giants have a two-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback in Eli Manning running the helm. With a top-five receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. and a rising star at tight end in Evan Engram, the pressure can easily be taken off of Barkley, setting him up for more opportunities to flourish in his rookie campaign.

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