Name: Saquon Barkley
Position: Running Back
School: Penn State
Weight: 223 pounds
Projected Round: Round 1 (Top Ten)
Barkley carries a strong frame at 5-foot-11 and 223 pounds that allows him to be physical with defenders. But even with his size, he has quick acceleration and can outrun almost any defender. His feet are lightning quick, and they allow him to make sudden movements. He uses his quick burst to plant his foot and bounce around the corner in a fluid movement. His lateral speed puts defenders out of position even when they ran a good angle to him.
Barkley’s vision is very good and is always looking for a seam. He is a patient runner that will find the open running lane instead of running into the back of his blockers. Will use cutback lanes that were left open when necessary. Can run through small lanes because of his elite agility and excellent balance.
When running in the open field, he rarely slows down to make a move. He uses an electric jump cut to make defenders trying to tackle him whiff. Also uses a quick spin move to make defenders miss. Runs at a good pad level and bent knees, letting him make a move when necessary.
Can catch out of the backfield. Can create separation with quick, crisp routes out of the backfield. Uses his quick acceleration to run past linebackers on wheel routes. Returned two kick returns for touchdowns in 2017 and has shown that he can be a very effective returner.
Barkley can get too addicted to using his speed to get around a corner, and will abandon inside running lanes. Although he has good vision, he has a tendency to not commit to a running lane and tries to find other lanes. Will not be able to beat as many defenders on the edge as he did in college.
Barkley does not break many tackles after contact is made. Will fight for yards, but does not have the power to drag defenders with him for extra yards. Not powerful enough to fight off tacklers when running between the tackles.
Barkley can get fancy behind the line of scrimmage and make too many moves instead of getting whatever yards he can, giving time for defenders to get to the ball. Will take too much time trying to find a lane, closing any potential lane as defenders fill gaps.
Capable pass-blocker, but he is spotty at best at making blocks. Does not have the longest arms, limiting his range to make catches. Can have issues with drops at times.
Fit with the Cleveland Browns
The Browns running back duo of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson is not expected to return in 2018, as Crowell is likely to leave in free agency. Johnson is a good player, but does not have the size to be an every down back. That is where Barkley can fill the spot.
Barkley was able to carry the load of the Penn State offense in 2017, even with defenses keying on him. Dose not have many fundamental issues that college running backs need help with. Has great vision that will carry over to the NFL. He has the size that will hold up after many NFL hits and has the speed to outrun defenders.
For Cleveland, they have not had a running back that will be able to take weight off a quarterback’s shoulders since Peyton Hillis’ magical 2010 season. For a team that is likely to have a rookie quarterback starting in 2018, a running back that can help ease the load is needed. Barkley will be able to do that. His rare combination of elusiveness, speed, and vision has the potential to alter an entire offense.
Barkley and Johnson in the same backfield would create a dynamic backfield. And Barkley could be the next Le’Veon Bell, and Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley would feature him that way.
He has a great attitude and a very intelligent person. For a team like the Browns that is looking for a culture change, a guy like Barkley could be the face of the franchise. He would be inserted in the Browns lineup, and instantly improve one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2017.