Eli Manning admitted to being pleased that the New York Giants opted against selecting a quarterback of the future with the second overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Giants passed over Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen and chose Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who rushed 217 times for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. The 6-foot-3, 233-pound Barkley also caught 54 passes for 632 yards and two scores, as well as returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
"It was kind of a vote of confidence in that they trusted in me that I can play at a high level, can win games, take us deep in playoffs and win championships and win championships still," Manning told Sirius XM NFL Radio.
"And you know what? I want to prove them right and I want to make them look smart and make them to have made the right decision in doing that. I want to go out there and do great things, do my job and lead this team and make guys around me better and do what I'm supposed to do to put us in position to win those games."
Manning endured a one-game benching last season that expedited the demise of head coach Ben McAdoo. The 37-year-old Manning had started 210 consecutive games before he was benched by McAdoo in favor of backup Geno Smith prior to a Week 13 loss at Oakland.
New York staggered to a 3-13 record as Manning threw for 3,468 yards -- his lowest total since 2008 -- with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The Giants scored just 15.4 points per game, second only to the winless Cleveland Browns (14.6).
Manning, who is signed through to the 2019 season, is looking forward to the added weapons on offense, namely a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. and Barkley along with offensive linemen Nate Solder and Will Hernandez.
"Now it's just a matter of, can we put it all together on game day?" the two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player said. "Can we find ways to make big plays in critical moments of the game? Can we win those tough-nosed battles where, hey, maybe not everything's going perfect but can you find a way to win in the fourth quarter? Can you put it all together in crunch time and find a way just a way to get those victories? Those are the teams that tend to have great years, the ones that are just gritty and tough and figure out ways to win football games.
"I think, on paper, it's kind of all where it needs to be. Now it's a matter, hey, can we put it all into play and make it work on Sundays?"
Manning will join the other quarterbacks, rookies and select veterans in reporting to camp on July 22. The remainder of the club is slated to show up three days later.