The NFL Combine this year could’ve been renamed the Saquon Barkley show (with special star appearance of Shaquem Griffin, which you can read more about here.) He’s indisputably an amazing athlete, with Combine scores that are on every team’s Christmas list. The Penn State Running Back weighs in at 6 ft and 233 pounds: with an electric 41 inch vertical, 29 bench reps and a cheetah paced 4:40 40-yard dash. He also was a vital and key part of Penn State’s success this season, defeating Washington in the Fiesta Bowl after a tough loss to top-ranked Ohio State, who beat USC and Sam Darnold in the Cotton Bowl.
With stats like these, many fans believe that he’s an automatic first pick for the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft, who badly need a star player after awful losing season with zero wins. The fan base is more than exhausted with belonging to the “Worst NFL team ever” and having a record of tragedy seasons. They’re gasping for air and hoping Barkley combined with the Browns 4th pick overall will be their golden ticket to at least a subpar season and more success in the coming years.
Let’s take a time out here. They’re wrong.
The last time a Running Back was picked first overall was by the Bengals in 1995, It was another Penn State RB, Ki-Jana Carter. He had a similar transcript as Barkley, who was assumed all through his college career to be one of the greats once he reached the NFL. But you know what they say about assuming things, Carter only ended up only starting 14 games in his seven season career, and wasn’t a player to write home about. If we’ve learn anything from star college players like him and Johnny Manziel, is that college talent can’t predict performance in the league, you know what said about assuming things.
“But Ezekiel Elliot doesn’t have stats like Barkley and look at him.” So glad you brought that up! Let’s never forget Elliot inherited the best offensive line in the league, (The Dallas Cowboys), filled to the rim with Pro-Bowl players and talent. Barkley on the other hand is a new born puppy stumbling into a dark abyss of a continuously failing offense. Point blank, it just isn’t the same situation.
When top running back Leonard Fournette was drafted 4th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017, the teams rushing yards actually decreased in the following season.
When running back Todd Gurley was drafted 10th overall by the St. Louis (now LA) Rams in 2015, the team got tons of backlash about taking a running back (even an extremely talented one) so early. This was the same draft where Jameis Winston went first with Marcus Mariota in second, both obvious top quarter back draft picks. But those were the only two standout quarterbacks in that draft. Fast forward to 2018, we have Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen leading a very strong 2018 draft class, and that’s just the tip of the ice berg.
It’s not to say Barkley isn’t a stellar athlete and a treat to any team that signs him, but a star running back can’t pull up a dying team from the trenches, and if The Browns wait to take their quarter back 4th pick overall they might miss the talent they need.