Draft analyst: Saquon Barkley is the best running back prospect in a decade
It’s safe to say the Saquon Barkley hype train has not only left the station, it’s touring around the country.
That much was obvious when the Penn State tailback was discussed at the 2017 combine as being a top-five pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Based on the various early mock drafts that have been released, those projections weren’t hyperbole.
But one draft analyst went a step further in his praising of Barkley.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller is one of the most respected NFL draft voices in the business. His opinions are valued, so when he makes a claim like he did on Wednesday, it’s noteworthy.
Miller didn’t just claim that Barkley was the best running back prospect in the 2018 class. He called the Penn State superstar the “best running back prospect in a decade.”
— Stick to Football (@sticktofootball) June 14, 2017
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) June 14, 2017
In case you were wondering, Adrian Peterson was drafted 10 years ago in 2007. Some of the running back prospects Miller put Barkley, who is entering his third year at Penn State, ahead of were Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, Marshawn Lynch, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon.
All of those backs were selected in the first half of the first round. Plenty of elite backs were drafted in the second round (Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, David Johnson), but Miller’s claim that Barkley is the best prospect of the bunch isn’t that crazy.
Barkley did already run a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, and he set Penn State’s power clean record after his freshman season. Combine that with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and a loaded highlight reel, and it’s not hard to see the upside.
Miller had Barkley coming off the board at No. 3 overall in his first 2018 mock draft. Ironically enough, he had Barkley reuniting with former Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg on the New York Jets.
Here’s what Miller wrote about Barkley in his 2018 mock:
Forget any talk that the running back position has been devalued in the NFL after two straight seasons of backs coming off the board at No. 4 overall. Next year, Saquon Barkley has a chance to do them one better.
The New York Jets may be looking at a Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold here next season; it all depends on if we see Christian Hackenberg and how he looks. Right now, no one outside the Jets’ facility knows how he’s developed throughout his redshirt rookie season. Given the potential there, I have the team passing on a quarterback for a dynamic running back that can change an offense immediately.
Barkley has amazing vision and balance and is a complete package of everything you want in a back. He’s more Ezekiel Elliott than Leonard Fournette and will be my early pick for the Heisman.
Will Barkley live up to that kind of hype? Only time will tell.
As long as he’s healthy, it looks like Barkley has a hype train conductor in Miller.