After a strong showing in the on-field workouts at the NFL Combine, running back Saquon Barkley is in the mix to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. If the Browns decide to draft him first overall, it would be the highest they have drafted a running back since they drafted Trent Richardson third overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.
After days of evaluation at the #Combine, one thing is clear: Penn St RB Saquon Barkley is firmly in the mix at No. 1 for the #Browns, sources say. Would be the first RB at that spot since Ki-Jana Carter to the #Bengals in 1995.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 4, 2018
Coming off an impressive career at Penn State, Barkley did not have to do much to solidify himself as one of the best prospects. But as he leaves Indianapolis, he likely solidified himself as the best prospect in the draft.
Barkley checked in at the combine at 6 feet and 233 pounds. This was a great size for Barkley, at it proves that he has the body that can take hits in the NFL. But the most impressive part of his combine performance is what he did in the weight room and at the 40-yard dash.
Barkley put up 29 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. That number was tied for the best among running backs, with Georgia’s Nick Chubb also putting up 29 reps. To put that number in perspective, Browns left tackle Joe Thomas was only able to put up 28 reps at the 2007 combine.
Barkley also ran a 4.4 second 40-yard dash. A good number for a running back to run, but what makes it so impressive is that it is rare for a running back over 230 pounds to run that fast. Since 2000, there have only been three running backs weighing over 230 pounds to run faster than Barkley at the combine.
Teams and scouts heading into Indianapolis knew that Barkley was athletic. But he proved that he is an athletic specimen that could be a generational talent. Which is why the Browns would be considering him as the first overall pick in the draft.
Although the Browns are still looking for a quarterback, Barkley may be too good to pass on. With the fourth overall pick, Cleveland has flexibility in their draft plans. With four quarterbacks that are worth drafting at the top of the draft, the Browns could select Barkley first overall and still get the quarterback they want at four.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo shared what he is hearing about what the Browns might do at one and four.
Yep. Firmly. As in I truly believe he’s their pick at 1 as of right now. As for the QB and what they might do at 4, there is very strong buzz Cleveland likes Baker Mayfield a lot. https://t.co/WUzzqb9swA
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 4, 2018
Cleveland also has the draft capital to trade up if they feel they needed to. Both the Giants and Colts have been rumored as trade back candidates. It could make sense for either team to trade with the Browns to get extra assets, and still get the player they want instead of trading farther down in the draft.
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Adding Barkley to Cleveland’s offense would give a dynamic weapon to take the pressure off a rookie quarterback. Barkley was asked about the potential of being drafted by Cleveland, saying it would be ‘awesome’ to join the Browns.
“If you go to a team like that, obviously, they’ve had some rough years, but I think they’re just a couple of pieces away,” Barkley said. “They do have a lot of young talent. They’ve brought in a new offensive coordinator. They only won one game, but they were in a lot of games.”
There is still a lot of time until the Browns must decide who the first overall pick will be. It is early in the draft process, as players still have to go through their pro days and private workouts. It is unlikely Cleveland will show their hand about what they are going to do at the beginning of March. But with the performance Barkley had in Indianapolis, it would be foolish if the Browns did not consider Barkley at one.