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Crabbs | An epiphany on Saquon Barkley

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Scouting Notes

Crabbs | An epiphany on Saquon Barkley

226 total yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns.

It was a tremendous showing for Penn State RB Saquon Barkley, who quickly made up for lost time after not getting a single touch in the team’s first nine plays from scrimmage. Barkley made quick work of the Zips defense, slicing and dicing his way through defenders as he romped for big play after big play.

It’s no surprise that Barkley was able to make things happen with the football, given he’s widely considered one of the best five or ten draft eligible talents in the entire country. But what stood out the most about Barkley’s performance to me was the realization of just how fast he truly is. That’s in regard to both his transitional quickness and agility and his straight line burst.

In scouting, there are times when a single play can uncover a layer of a prospect’s game that you may have just been taking for granted, or you were looking at other traits all together. But this run from Barkley screamed so loud at me that it was impossible to miss. This man is *FAST*.

Don’t tell me that it is “just Akron”. Please. The burst and acceleration up field from Barkley here beats four separate pursuit angles up the sideline. Several of these defenders actually have favorable leverage and pursuit angles at the start of the run. It’s eye popping, to say the least; especially when taking into consideration Barkley is listed at 5’11, 229 lbs. Men this size aren’t supposed to run like this. But as I alluded to, this isn’t simply straight line power; like a Leonard Fournette.

The first cut from Barkley is a hard one, allowing him to come to balance. It’s not especially sudden, but effective. But the move Barkley hits on #7 as he works his way back into the field? My goodness. And then there’s the balance and ability to sustain speed while shaking off a low tackle attempt on his leg while reaching the line to gain on 3rd down. Plus the power to get vertical and jump over two grown human beings; transitioning into that move out of a full speed run.

Really, really special stuff from Saquon Barkley this weekend.

He illustrated his elite physical tools against an inferior opponent. What can Saquon Barkley do from here? He (and the Penn State team) can translate this performances into weekly showings. Especially against the big dogs of the Big Ten.

Barkley has had success against big time teams in the past, performing big against Ohio State in 2015 (194 rushing yards) and 2016 (99 rushing yards on 12 carries). And then of course there’s last year’s Rose Bowl against USC (194 rushing yards, 55 receiving yards and 3 total touchdowns).

Looking ahead for this team, the Iowa Hawkeyes will present a challenge at the end of the month, but Barkley’s ultimate litmus test in possibly his final season looms in mid-October. The team plays Michigan at home before traveling to Ohio State in back to back weeks. Saquon Barkley is already a star, make no mistake. But I would love to see him electrify the Wolverines and Buckeyes for good measure. If so, he makes a real push for a Heisman Trophy on his way out of State College.

Kyle Crabbs

Kyle Crabbs is the founder/Director of Scouting of NDT Scouting Services, a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the lead NFL Draft analyst for the FanRag Sports Network.

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