It’s hard to be on social media more than a few minutes without seeing Saquon Barkley. From his viral workout videos like the one below to Penn State’s aggressive Heisman campaign, Barkley is the talk of college football.
Lately, the discussion has spilled into the NFL, as Barkley has a unique blend of quickness and power that makes him a generational talent. Make no mistake, Barkley has been a known commodity by NFL front offices for years. When you rush for over 1,000 yards during your freshman season at Penn State, you are not sneaking up on anybody.
Despite putting up gaudy numbers from the start, Barkley has done anything but regress. Barkley rushed for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns his sophomore season. He also had 402 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Barkley is on pace to put up similar numbers during the 2017 season. NFL GM’s are already taking notice of Barkley’s athleticism and freakish strength. According to The Morning Call, Barkley ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.3 seconds.
“The thing that makes Saquon unique is, he does 30 [reps in the bench press], and then he runs a 4.3 [in the 40-yard dash],” Penn State director of performance Dwight Galt told The Morning Call. “Usually it’s one or the other.”
According to NFL.com, Barkley’s 30 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press would have tied for first with Samaje Perine’s 30 reps in the 2017 running backs draft class.
Here’s a look at Barkley’s 30 reps.
Barkley is a junior, but given his draft stock it would be surprising if he did not enter the 2018 NFL Draft. Barkley has long been linked with LSU running back Darius Guice, but Barkley is the current favorite to be the first running back off the board in next year’s draft.
In Heavy’s latest NFL mock draft, we have Barkley going No. 5 to the Giants. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has Barkley going No. 2 to the 49ers in his most recent mock. CBS Sports is a bit lower going with Barkley at No. 16 to the Lions.
There was a period of a time in recent years where it became taboo to take a running back early. With the success of Ezekiel Elliott, Toddy Gurley and Leonard Fournette, that time has passed as all three backs have lived up to their high draft position.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah interviewed NFL executives on who they would compare Barkley’s game to in the current NFL. Two names that came up were David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott. Here’s how Jeremiah evaluated Barkley on NFL.com.
I compared Barkley to Elliott when I studied the PSU RB this summer for my First Look series. I think he’s a more talented prospect than any of the running backs in the 2017 draft class. He has the talent and upside to quickly develop into the best running back at the next level. That’s not hyperbole.
As things stand now, fans can expect Barkley to be a top 10 pick in 2018, and the first running back off the board. A true comparison is hard to get as Barkley loves to bounce it outside, but has no problem running defenders over as these highlights below show.