Saquon Barkley has generated a conversation that the Penn State running back could be the top overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
I love this time of year as we get closer to the NFL Draft. As a college and professional football fan, this is a wonderful marriage between the two.
For some, the NFL combine and pre-draft process is the first time they get to see these draft prospects. For others like myself, we’ve been following these players since their sophomore year in high school when they entered the recruiting conversation. It’s because of those years following these players that my player evaluation may differ from someone watching highlight tape or inputting his workout numbers to see where his metrics fall on the Sparq scale.
So what I want to do is provide an NFL Draft profile for some of the top prospects through the lens of a college football fan.
Saquon Barkley, Penn State, Running Back
Barkley is the safest prospect in the entire draft and perhaps the best too.
The 6-foot, 233-pound Barkley has the speed, strength, agility, vision and explosiveness that will make him a future All-Pro.
Barkley was a workhorse for three seasons at Penn State where he ran for 1,271 and 1,496 yards the last two years with 36 rushing scores. He also topped 1,000 yards receiving the last two years before stealing the show at the scouting combine where he showed his on-field skill-set was complemented by his work in the weight room to make him the total package at the position.
Barkley has elements of Barry Sanders in his game because his feet are constantly churning and he has the agility and acceleration to make defenders miss in the open field without slowing down. His jump cut is eerily reminiscent of LeSean McCoy and he has the patience and vision to allow his offensive linemen to set up their blocks.
Now, Barkley won’t push the pile and excel in short-yardage but he can lower his shoulder and deliver a pop when he has a running start. That’s really the only knock I have on Barkley and that’s really not even a serious concern.
He’s skilled as a receiver and added two kick returns for touchdowns as a junior. Running backs are no longer taboo to take in the first round after Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette have gone in the top 10 the last three years. Look for Barkley to follow in their shoes and make an immediate impact for the team that drafts him.
Provided he stays healthy and avoids major injury, Barkley could be a member of the 10,000-yard club and a fantasy football darling.