Draft Insiders’ Rookie Spotlight – RB Saquon Barkley – Giants
Each week Draft Insiders’ will do a Rookie spotlight and post their Scouting Report from our NFL Draft 2018 Yearbook. Scouting Reports are written from the fall into March annually.
Week 6 showcased the top rookie running back Saquon Barkley of the Giants. He has started since day one and been one of the few bright spots during the GMen’s dismal 1-5 season.
He brings the most completed back to the game in years and new energy and life to a lackluster offense. Despite a weak offensive line, Barkley has rushed for 428 yards for a 5.2 yard average along with 40 receptions for 373 yards and 6 TDs. He has been dramatic and impressive despite special attention on virtually every play. His numbers are on pace for both a 1000 yard rushing and receiving performance which would be a first in NFL annals.
He has uncanny instincts with quick decision making and footwork that allows him to move and create situations and extend plays. He displayed rare composure in a pressure packed situation Thursday night vs the Eagles where he displayed big play ability as both a runner and receiver.
He was the #1 running back selected from a very deep class and the #2 overall choice behind only QB Baker Mayfield. He gives Giant fans hope during a frustrating period where the changing roster is in
We compared him to LaDainian Tomlinson in talent, mobility and leadership which emerged dramatically over his Penn St career and postseason prior to the NFL Draft 2018.
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2018 Running Backs Class – Grade: A
This year’s running back position is an excellent group with a super blue-chip junior in Saquon Barkley at the top of the class. Barkley is a premier NFL feature back who can be an elite pro player early in his career. We rank him higher than Zeke Elliott or Leonard Fournette both of whom were difference makers from their first season.
1 Saquon Barkley #26 – Penn St 6-0 230 – Sp. 4.45
Player Comparison: LaDainian Tomlinson Rating 95
Dynamic powerful junior is the most physically gifted back to arrive in the NFL since Adrian Peterson. Strong compact frame with very quick feet and the explosive burst to go the distance from anywhere on the field. The complete package to become a top NFL feature back with rare skills to be an instant impact three down player as a rookie. Difference maker the past two seasons at Penn St. and produced impressive numbers despite weekly special attention in the Big Ten. Earned first team Big Ten his final two seasons. Great team leader with smarts, instincts and leadership. Possesses an ideal NFL body with a well-developed muscular frame with the natural ability to drop his pads and square up when attacking the line. Shows great lateral quickness with the burst to get outside consistently and go the distance. Displays the initial burst to hit an opening with the cutting skills of a smaller back and the power to break and bounce off tacklers. Very good lower body strength (squats 600 lbs.+) to run through tacklers and carry a big load weekly. As a runner, shows natural vision and balance with the power and toughness to consistently get the most of each attempt. Reads his initial blocks very well with a feel for finding an opening with the speed to hit a hole and run away from defenders. Patient runner allows play to unfold with the burst to create. Faced eight in a box often and put up huge numbers vs Big Ten talent in key games with conference and national impact. Shows the power to run through creases with rare lateral quickness and long speed to stick-and-go out of his cuts. Displays the patience to follow blockers and the ability to shift his weight very well and string multiple moves together. Soft hands as a receiver out of the backfield and capable of a big play in space where his speed and power are a dangerous combination. Strong hands to protect the ball well. Needs work on his blocking especially in blitz situations. Shows the toughness and athleticism to face up with backers, but needs the practice time to progress in that key area. Good route running and defense recognition. Elite combination of speed and power to provide early impact as a pro feature runner. Very strong lower body with good straight arm and can sink his hips and explode to come downhill. Extremely tough to tackle inline or in space. Sets up cut-back lanes exceptionally well with the body lean to get much yardage after contact.
The Numbers: As a junior, he started 13 games and rushed for 1271 yards on 217 carries for a 5.9 average and 18 TDs. He added 54 receptions for 632 yards and 3 TDs. For the 2016 season, he started 14 games and rushed for 1496 yards on 272 attempts for 5.5 yard average and 18 TDs. He added 28 receptions for 402 yards and 4 TDs. As a freshman in 2015, he rushed for 1076 yards on 182 carries for a 5.9 average and 7 TDs and added 20 receptions for 161 yards and 1 TD. Over his career, he rushed for 3843 yards on 671 attempts for a fine 5.7 average and 43 TDs plus totaled 102 receptions for 1195 yards and 8 TDs. At the NFL Combine, he came in at 6’ and 233 lbs. and ran a 4.40 time. He did 29 reps in the lifting with a 41” VL and a 4.24 shuttle. In the mold of premier breakaway power backs like LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson and Zeke Elliott in body type and style, he is similar yet superior to Todd Gurley with the speed and power to be the best in the game. Major early impact weapon.
The Skinny: Fast physical downhill thumper with the long speed to be a game breaker. Rookie impact feature back who becomes his own blocker. Rookie three down starter with developed receiving skills. As a blocker, he shows quick reactions and toughness to face up to use his strong frame and agility, though needs to prove he can square off with blitz defenders. Natural runner and early difference maker. Faced NFL caliber defenders weekly and carried a full load with great production despite special attention. Very well rounded back and excellent skill set to be an impact player. Super blue-chip athlete and my #1 prospect since September 2017 with no need to change that grade. Top 2 prospect with elite talent to be among the league’s best runners immediately.
Draft Projection: 1st Round – Top 2