After a disappointing 4-12 season, the Colts are in an excellent position to greatly improve their team this offseason. The Colts will pick number three in the upcoming draft. It isn’t often that a generational talent is available with the third pick in the draft. The Colts have plenty of glaring needs – offensive line, linebacker, pass rush – that need addressing. Three names are circling around for the Colts to draft. Bradley Chubb, EDGE from NC State, has all of the tools to become an elite NFL pass rusher. Quentin Nelson, Guard from Notre Dame, is a mauler, and the best lineman in the NFL. The player that I will be breaking down today, Saquon Barkley.
Barkley is flat out the best running back prospect we have seen in a long, long time. He is up there with the likes of Adrian Peterson and Barry Sanders as the best tailback prospect ever. Saquon Barkley, junior at Penn State, stands at 5’11 230, an ideal frame for an NFL running back. This season at Penn State, Barkley lit up the college football world with an incredible season. Barkley totaled 1,903 yards from scrimmage, and 21 total touchdowns. In three season, Barkley has 5,038 total yards and 51 total touchdowns. Barkley’s 6.5 yards per touch is also very solid.
We’ll begin with Barkley’s weaknesses, since he has so few. His vision in the running game and the passing game isn’t incredible. He struggles sometimes to get into space after goint out on a route. Barkley often tries to make something out of nothing to make big plays instead of taking a short yard gain. When this works, you have some incredible highlights, but most of the time it does not. He could use a mentor to help improve his patience. Barkley does not have great technique in pass protection, but that is a small kink that he will have plenty of time to work out.
Wait… that’s it? Yes, that is really it. Those are the only two weaknesses I can find when watching tape of Saquon Barkley. Starting with Barkley’s most obvious strength, his big play ability. Barkley has a knack for the big play, and tends to change the game by himself on a fairly regular basis. His speed is elite. Barkley reportedly ran a 4.38 last summer, and projects similarly at the combine. Barkley projects to have one of the best combines in a long time, with his combination of speed, quickness, and strength. His burst through gaps is excellent, and his acceleration is like that of a Ferrari. Once Barkley gets to top speed, he is very tough to catch him. If you do manage to get in front of him, good luck bringing him down. Barkley has every single move in his repertoire: spin move, juke, trucking, stiff arm, hurdle, you name it, and he is not afraid to embarrass defenders. Barkley has the strength of Leonard Fournette, the elusiveness of Le’Veon Bell, and the speed of LeSean McCoy.
Saquon Barkley would make a better slot receiver than plenty of actual NFL receivers. Although hiss route tree is currently limited, he runs routes well. Linebackers and safeties will have absolutely no chance to guard Barkley sneaking out of the backfield.
Not to mention, Barkley is the best kick returner in the nation, and can throw the ball a bit too.
This first play showcases Barkley’s 92 yard touchdown against Washington. Barkley takes the inside handoff and makes a quick cut, before exploding through the gap. From there on out it is a footrace, and we all know Barkley is not losing that race.
Remember that time Saquon Barkley did this?
That was awesome. pic.twitter.com/ei98iOdGlA
— Mike V.P. (@MikePettigano) January 2, 2018
The second play is a testament to Barkley’s excellent receiving abilities. On this screen pass, Trace McSorley throws the ball, and Barkley follows with his best Odell Beckham impression, making a ridiculous one handed snag. After this, Barkley makes a quick juke to beat the defender, and shakes off a weak leg tackle. Barkley is an absolute nightmare to tackle.
Saquon Barkley with the one handed grab in the flat then bursting through the defense for a sizable gain. pic.twitter.com/MwozpHrq2e
— Bruce Matson (@BMatz08) December 18, 2017
Speaking of a nightmare to tackle, Barkley takes two more victims on this vicious hurdle to get the first down. This is what you get with Saquon Barkley: a guy who will make highlight plays game in and game out, and can flat out win you ballgames.
— Russ Mitchell (@RussMitchellCFB) December 30, 2017
NFL Comparison: David Johnson
It is difficult to find a comparison for Saquon Barkley, since he is just that special. Just like Barkley, David Johnson does everything. He is an excellent receiver, he has good speed, and he will get by your defender in any way you can think of. Barkley has all of the tools to become better than Johnson could dream of being. Barkley has every trait a three down back in the NFL needs to thrive
Despite the existence of Marlon Mack and potentially Frank Gore, Saquon Barkley fits in seamlessly with the Colts. If the Colts do select Barkley, he will start day one, no questions asked. Mack unfortunately will not get the chance to shine as a starter, but that is a sacrifice you make when you have a future superstar back in your pocket, and Mack would be excellent as a spell back as he already is. Not to mention that an elite halfback would take tons of pressure off of Andrew Luck, if he ever returns the same.
In conclusion, I believe that the Colts would benefit greatly from drafting Barkley. Pass rushers and linemen come and go, and the Colts will have other chances to address those needs. Many are wary of drafting a running back top five, or even top 15, but the recent success of the likes of Ezekiel Elliot and Todd Gurley should reassure the Colts. Getting a player as special as Barkley is an offer that the Colts may not be able to pass up come draft night.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, and the AFC South Division Editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_ and @FPC_Colts.