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2018 Draft

Saquon Barkley – Next Ladainian Tomlinson?

Running Back

Penn State University

Listed Height- 5’11”

Listed Weight- 223 Pounds

Overview

Saquon will be a junior this year at Penn State. He made an impact early as a freshmen, rushing for 1076 yards, TDs and 161 yards receiving. His sophomore year he really blossomed as he lead Penn State to a great season and a Rose Bowl Appearance. He finished 2016 with 1496 yards rushing, 18 TDs, 402 receiving yards (4 TDs). His first two seasons where he has gone over 1000 yards rushing have been an instrumental piece of Penn State turning their football program back around after their scandal.

Strengths

Barkley has spectacular play ability, just check out his run in their bowl game vs USC (58 second mark of the highlight video below). His ability to juke and make cuts can’t even be duplicated in Madden. The way he just puts his foot in the ground & slips past defenders is must-see TV. This also helps him quickly squirt from one hole to another without losing momentum, he can easily take a play that was supposed to go inside and take it to the edge. Barkley stands at a listed 5’11” 223 pounds, well built lower body, this is where you see most of his explosiveness generated. There was recently a video of him posted on social media of him power cleaning 405, and also squatting 525 for 5 reps. He’s a bit of a physical freak. All of Barkley’s carries are from the shotgun, either read option or outside zone type runs. This really benefits him because his 0-60 ability is ridiculous, he has great burst through the hole. He has the hamster on a wheel type foot quickness, not a long strider. Runs very low to the ground & shows excellent balance, especially near the sidelines. He’s able to make people miss and still have the balance to stay in-bounds to keep the play alive. He really understands how to avoid tacklers, you’ll see him dip his body to glide around their grasps. This also helps him avoid fumbles, he carries the ball rather low & loose at times but he understands how to take on tacklers. Barkley shows the potential to be a complete three down back as well. Catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield and has proven to be deadly on wheel routes. If you watch him early in the season you don’t see a very consistent blocker. However, as the season progressed he did very well there, shows real nice balance to square up with blitzers or loose rushers. He’s really a play maker with the ball in his hand from hurdling guys to breaking ankles, Barkley is a highlight reel waiting to happen.

Weaknesses/Concerns/Room for Improvement

I do have questions about Barkley between the tackles. You do see him hit the hole with a lot of speed but often you see him get taken down easily if someone gets their hands on him. You don’t see him consistently finish strong as a runner inside, doesn’t move many piles. As impressive as his lower body build is, you don’t see a very built upper body and he doesn’t break many tackles with his upper body strength. Only time you really see him stick it to a defender is at the goal line, against a lazy safety. I would say he has decent vision, he could definitely improve there, he’ll run into darkness at times & miss an opportunity. You clearly see the willingness as a blocker, I would love to see him come with some more “pop” though. He can be overwhelmed by physical rushers. I’m really interested to see how he responds to taking carries from the I formation in the league. I would say on 99% of his carries, he’s just taking the handoff from the gun and he’s off, looking for yards. I’d be interested to see how he responds when he really has to be patient at the line and let his blocks progress. Even though Barkley has some very long touchdowns in his career already, I don’t really see him as a burner. I love his burst through the hole but I don’t believe he has that second gear to finish the home-run play with just speed alone. A lot of his long touchdowns involve him making people miss down the field rather than running away from them. For a guy who I believe is better at bouncing it outside, I’m not entirely sure he has the lateral speed to always get the edge. If you watch the Indiana game of his sophomore year, they were flying up the field at him & he struggled with this, only averaged 1.8 yards on 33 carries. He wasn’t able to get the edge against them. He may be too reliant on running to the outside.

The Rundown

Overall, I think Barkley is a very exciting runner with potential to be a complete three down back. However, people who are saying he should be a top 5 pick right now and are comparing him to LaDainian Tomlinson, I say “not so fast”. First off, LT had the dirtiest stiff arm in the game, I question Barkley’s upper body strength. I believe there’s some serious development that would need to be made from the switch to a more pro style offense, would love to see some real between the tackles carries this season. Barkley has the ability to make anybody look silly in open space, I question why he isn’t returning punts at times. In my opinion, as of right now, Barkley should more of a mid first round pick. For me to consider him in the top 10, he has a lot of questions to answer. I’m extremely excited to watch him this season to find out if those questions will be answered.

Scheme Fit

You watch Barkley and a lot of his hand-offs are sideways. Ideally, you’d love to see him used in a similar manner as LeSean McCoy. I believe they are very similar players, with the way they shake people in space and both are excellent receivers . So get him in a Philadelphia sideways offense and he can excell all day, I believe. You don’t change your identity to a run first team with Barkley, you fit him into your passing attack offense and he becomes a dynamic part of it. As a Cowboys fan, we already have Zeke Elliott (who can’t seem to stay out of the news apparently), so we aren’t in a huge market for a runner early on. You need to keep an eye out for Barkley more so if he goes to an NFC East or NFC rival. You don’t want him in the division.

Draft Position

Potential Top Ten

First Round 🔐

Highlights/2017 Rose Bowl vs USC

Other Comments

If there’s someone else you want me to do a report on, let me know and I’ll definitely check him out. You can either leave a comment on this report or you can tweet me @dexterharris28 on twitter.

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