Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com is traditionally one of the more reliable scoops of the NFL Draft world. On Tuesday, he reported that Penn State RB Saquon Barkley was close to settling on an agent for the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft.
It’s hardly surprising. Barkley has been on a torrid pace as the primary weapon for the undefeated Nittany Lions, who enter this weekend’s heavyweight match-up with the Ohio State Buckeyes as the #2 team in the country.
The buzz and hype around Barkley is warranted 100%, he is a special talent with rare physical gifts and a squeaky clean off the field record to boot. Barkley is right in my back yard, I grew up just a few hours east of State College, PA and attended Penn State University myself, so I’ve had the chance to see a ton of him through the first half of the 2017 college season.
I can already tell you this: Saquon Barkley is going to be the #1 overall player on my personal board this spring, barring a catastrophic injury (here’s fingers crossed we don’t even have a minor bump). His film is tremendous and there’s already been much made about his athletic testing from the 2017 Penn State spring workouts.
For those unfamiliar, Barkley is billed with a mid-4.3 40-yard dash, a 38.0″ vertical jump, a 10’10” standing broad, a 4.00 short shuttle. Those testing numbers for a back in the high 230’s is unheard of in recent years.
If Barkley hits anywhere close to those numbers at that weight, he’s going to crush the metrics I use to supplement his film score. His production is through the roof and he’s a three year starter at a big time school.
In short, there’s very little in the way of weaknesses on Barkley’s current resume, so it makes plenty of sense that he’s poised to make the jump to the NFL after the season.
I’ve run some simulations of Barkley’s metrics and scored his film at the mid-point of the season to get a gauge on where his final score is set to fall.
I don’t see any way Saquon Barkley isn’t the highest scored prospect I’ve ever had at NDT Scouting.
The top three prospects on my all-time board (since 2014 NFL Draft) are all EDGE Defenders:
- Myles Garrett: 8.65 out of 9.00
- Jadeveon Clowney: 8.57 out of 9.00
- Khalil Mack: 8.55 out of 9.00
My top RBs scores in that same time window include
- Joe Mixon: 8.12 out of 9.00
- Todd Gurley: 8.03 out of 9.00
- Ezekiel Elliott: 8.00 out of 9.00
Barkley will surpass them all, an indication that this is truly a generation talent. The phrase “check all the boxes” is one any NFL Draft fan is familiar with. But how many players actually do it? The list is short. But Barkley is on it. Finding a true comparison for Barkley is proving to be difficult given his style of play, versatility and explosive skill set.
I took to Twitter to crowd-source opinions and came away with names ranging from Ray Rice, LaDanian Tomlinson, Trent Richardson, Bo Jackson, Lesean McCoy, Fred Taylor, David Johnson, Eddie George, Ricky Williams, Marshall Faulk, Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James, Adrian Peterson and Clinton Portis.
When the comparisons are a who’s who of the pantheon of great RBs in NFL history, it’s pretty self explanatory.
For me, if Ricky Williams had greater long speed, that would be my comparison. Ricky coming out of Texas was a complete back with some explosive test scores, logging a 37.0″ vertical and a 10’04” standing broad at 244 lbs. Ricky physically dominated would be tacklers in the same way Barkley assaults them in the hole; but Barkley has a better second gear and looks to be a bit looser in the lower half.
Regardless of who you see when watching Barkley play, enjoy it. He’s a special, special talent and one you’ll be hearing a whole lot more of between now and next April.