Other than quarterbacks, Saquon Barkley may be one of the biggest names in the 2018 draft. Many draft analysts have him as the number one overall prospect. It is rare to see him outside of the top-five in people’s mock drafts. So, what exactly is the big hype with this standout running back? Should the Browns look at drafting him with one of their top picks?
Saquon Barkley grew up in Pennsylvania and decided to attend Penn State as a four-star running back coming out of high school. In his freshman year, he started off hot. He set a school record with 1,076 rushing yards and was named to the Freshman All-American team and second team All-Big Ten. He was able to excel even against a top team, Ohio State, with 195 yards and two TDs. He did all of this even though he missed two games with an ankle injury. He continued his success into his sophomore season rushing for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns. He earned third team All-American honors and won Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Barkley caught everyone’s attention when he had 204 yards and two scores against USC in the Rose Bowl. Going into his junior year, he was already getting recognition as a potential top pick in the draft. His senior year, he was expected to be a Heisman candidate and he continued to look like it would be his. He finished the year fourth in Heisman voting, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and first team All-American. He totaled 1,271 rushing and 632 receiving yards with 23 total touchdowns.
Barkley has been able to prove that he can affect a game in any offensive position you put him in. He excelled as a rusher throughout his career with more than 1,000 rushing yards in each of his seasons and continuously demonstrating speed and agility when he ran. He continued to improve as a receiver by showing that he could be a threat out of the backfield as well. Even as a kickoff returner, he was able to return two touchdowns, including the first play against Ohio State. On top of all of this, in his junior year, he completed two passes, including one for a touchdown. Off the field, he has proven to be a man of great character and work ethic.
When it comes to weaknesses, they are minimal, but still there. He is not the best North/South or powerful runner using his speed and agility to get away from tacklers. With pass protection, he could use some work. Against Ohio State, a team with a lot of defensive NFL talent, he struggled as a runner and was able to be bottled up when he was needed.
No matter where he goes, he will be able to make an instant impact anywhere on the field. Saquon Barkley has the potential to be a top running back and a great choice for the Cleveland Browns.