Saquon Barkley, Running Back, Penn State
Weight: 230 lbs
Saquon Barkley exhibits a vision on the football field that very few do. He has shown time and time again that he has the vision to excel at the next level. His vision allows him to take the play among himself. He does have trouble sometimes finding holes behind the line, but once he gets passed it he has the best open-field vision in college football.
Some scouts are saying Saquon Barkley will run a par-4.4 40-yard dash. That number as a running back is astonishing. Most backs who do run that fast are usually one dimensional. Barkley doesn’t only have straight line speed, he can also move sideline-to-sideline. He can go from standing to full speed real quick. This speed lets him break away from most defenders. Look for him to wow at the combine.
In Saquon Barkley’s three years at Penn State, he only fumbled four times. Three out of the four were lost. Those four fumbles came in his first two years as he went last year without a fumble. The inability to hold the ball can kill a player’s career. Barkley looks like he has the chance to be in the league a long time with his ability to hold onto the ball.
East-West Running Ability
Saquon Barkley can get jiggy with it. He can break ankles and cut on a dime. Barkley’s east to west running is something marvelous to watch. Any defender that tries to tackle will be challenged with either a juke, spin, or possibly a hurdle. It is basically impossible for one guy to tackle him. There are the times though where he gets a bit overwhelmed and ends up going backward instead of forward. All-in-all though, Barkley is going to be a human highlight reel when he hits the NFL field.
North-South Running Ability
As well as an east to south runner Barkley is, he can also dominate running north to south. Barkley has the ability to run through any defender that gets in his way. He runs like a freight train out there.
The way that running backs are looked at in the NFL is different now. Backs have to be able to catch and run the ball if they want to play full time. One of the main reasons Saquon Barkley is going to be a top-five pick in the draft is because of his impact on the passing game. Barkley sometimes looks like a wide receiver out there. He has smooth route running and good hands. Barkley ranked fifth in receptions for running backs in the NCAA.
Barkley doesn’t just affect the passing game in terms of catching the ball, he can also block. Blocking is a vital part of the NFL for running backs. Those who can block get those third-down snaps. Being able to catch and block like Barkley, is what makes him the perfect package.
A well-known phrase in the NFL universe is “the best ability is availability”. Injuries can derail anyone’s career and make a Hall of Fame type player a nobody real quick. Luckily for Saquon Barkley, he hasn’t had to deal with the injury bug so far in his football career. Barkley played every game possible in college. There is always a chance for a freak injury that can change his fortune but as of now, he is a safe pick for the NFL Draft due to his ability to stay healthy. Running backs are known to have a shorter career than most positions. So it is obviously better to be as healthy as possible.
Yes, that is a pretty darn good player to compare to a college player, but Saquon Barkley just has the ability to be that good. Just like Bell, Barkley is a three-down back with agility and power. Barkley and Bell are the exact backs general managers would want to carry the tote for their franchises.
Most Realistic Team Fit
A team that Barkley might be able to transcend their offense is the Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland Browns hold both the first and fourth picks in the draft. Rumors have surfaced that Kirk Cousins might want to play for the Browns, so that means there won’t be a need for a quarterback with the first pick. Current starting running back, Isiah Crowell, is set to be a free agent and might not come back. These two would be a great match.
Saquon Barkley is the best running back prospect coming out since Adrian Peterson. He will look to continue the trend of running backs going in the top-10 of the draft. The NFL went away from running backs in the first-round due to a change in the landscape of the NFL. It was all about passing until the quarterback’s arms fell off. That hasn’t changed much, but the need for running backs has. Running backs have to be able to do everything in the passing game now, not just run. Luckily for the NFL team that drafts him, not the other 31, Barkley has the ability to be the next best back.
The physical specimen can do anything the coaches need as a running back, even though sometimes. He is not only looking to be a great player, he is also a great person. He says the right things and does the right things. Just what teams want from a 21-year old looking to possibly be the face of their franchise. He is going to be a great player.
– Christian Gotzman is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage College Football. He covers College Football and is also a staff writer for the Philadelphia Eagles. Like and follow on Follow @C_Gotzman Follow @FPC_CFB and Facebook.