Giants Rumors: The Athletic’s Dan Duggan Suggests Big Blue Draft Breece Hall as Saquon Barkley’s Replacement

As the 2022 NFL Draft nears, the New York Giants still haven’t traded or cut running back Saquon Barkley. In fact, it appears the four-time Super Bowl champions might be stuck with the former Penn State standout until next offseason, especially given his injury history and $7.27 million guaranteed salary.

However, come 2023, it could be an entirely new ballgame, and Big Blue appears poised to select Barkley’s successor in the upcoming draft.

Dan Duggan suggested the Giants select Breece Hall as Saquon Barkley’s replacement

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (L) and Iowa State running back Breece Hall in 2021.
Will the New York Giants replace Saquon Barkley (L) with Breece Hall? | Jim McIsaac/Getty Images; David K Purdy/Getty Images

By his own admission, The Athletic’s Dan Duggan would prefer not to use a Day 2 draft pick on a running back. If he was the general manager, he’d instead sign cheap veterans to play the position or select a player on the draft’s third and final day.

However, Duggan is willing to change his approach when he’s trying to think like Giants general manager Joe Schoen. In his recent 7-round Giants mock draft, the veteran beat reporter said he would use the club’s first third-round pick (67th overall) on Iowa State’s Breece Hall, a unanimous All-American selection in 2020 and the two-time reigning Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year.

Hall rushed for 3,941 yards and 50 touchdowns — 41 of which came over the last two seasons — and averaged 5.5 yards per carry in his college career. He and Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III are almost universally considered the 2022 NFL Draft’s top running back prospects.

Hall makes perfect sense for Big Blue, especially as the Barkley era potentially nears its end

The reality of the situation is the Giants cannot depend on Barkley, and there is no reason at this time to believe he will be back on the roster in 2023. Even if the Penn State product somehow stays healthy for the entire 2022 campaign, the best solution for all parties might be a divorce, especially considering the fact that Schoen didn’t draft him in 2018.

Enter Hall, who could split carries with Barkley this season before becoming the full-time back next year. Buffalo, where Schoen worked before becoming the Giants’ general manager earlier this year, applied a similar strategy in 2019. Frank Gore and rookie Devin Singletary formed a reliable 1-2 punch as the Bills, with new Giants head coach Brian Daboll serving as the offensive coordinator, went 10-6 and reached the playoffs as a wild-card team.

As the season went on, Singletary saw more touches as both a running back and a receiver. Although the Bills didn’t fully unleash the Florida Atlantic product until late in the 2021 season, they at least saw enough positives in his rookie year to not re-sign Gore in the spring of 2020.

Now, we can all agree the only similarity between Barkley and Gore is that they’re running backs. However, the greater point here is the Bills took a chance on a proven running back in the draft’s third round despite already having Gore and LeSean McCoy on the roster. In fact, the Bills cut McCoy before the season in large part because of Singletary’s potential and impressive preseason.

The Giants hired Schoen hoping he’d apply the strategies the Bills have in recent years. Using a third-round pick on a running back like Hall would go a long way in achieving that goal.

What other running backs should the Giants target in the 2022 NFL Draft?

According to Duggan, the Giants brought Hall, Georgia’s James Cook, and Alabama’s Brian Robinson in for visits on Tuesday, April 5. All are expected to be selected on the draft’s second day, which should all but signal in giant, neon lights that the four-time champions plan on drafting a running back early.

Maybe it won’t be Hall. Perhaps the Giants will draft Cook, who ran for 1,503 yards and averaged an impressive 6.5 yards per carry in four seasons at Georgia. The 5-foot-11, 199-pound Cook ⁠ — whose older brother, Dalvin, is a two-time All-Pro selection ⁠— ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and could sneak into the draft’s second round despite only having one season as a starter under his belt.

Robinson could have an opportunity to become the next great Alabama running back after rushing for 2,704 yards and 29 touchdowns in five seasons with the Crimson Tide. The 6-foot-2, 225 pound Robinson ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and already has a connection with Daboll, who served as his offensive coordinator in 2017.

The Giants need a running back of the future, and it certainly appears it won’t be Barkley. However, we’re all for the team targeting one of Cook, Hall, or Robinson to do what Barkley likely won’t accomplish in a Giants uniform: stay healthy and bring a Lombardi Trophy back to the Meadowlands.

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