SAQUON BARKLEY | PENN STATE RB | 6-0, 233 | NO. 2 PICK OVERALL
This is not a wear-down-the-defense kinda guy here, people. Yeah, he looked fantastic in shorts and tank top, strutting that 6-foot, 233-pound frame around the combine. Hell, he looked great in a Penn State uniform, too. But he never was a start-to-finish player for the Nittany Lions. He's a timebomb with no timer - bound to go off for a play, maybe two, in a game and that's it.
Don’t mind the high praise for the kid.
Don’t mind declarations of impending NFL greatness for him. Or the favorable comparisons to others, past and present.
Saquon Barkley is a special talent, an elite athlete and, the trigger that pushes all buttons, a tireless workout warrior hellbent on proving doubts, including his own, wrong.
He deserves the attention, the accolades and the faith from his followers.
It’s just you won’t catch me genuflecting at the “best player in the 2018 draft and surefire Hall of Famer” altar anytime soon.
Sorry, just have seen the can’t-miss, chiseled out of granite/faster than a speeding bullet, well, miss before. Quite a lot, actually.
Plus, Barkley – or at least expectation of what he will be – comes with a legit red flag for me, and we’re talking performance between the lines wise, not off-the-field silliness stuff.
What, pray tell, could that possibly be?
Pretty simple. He’s been rubber-stamped as the ultimate, every-down back that any professional team would covet … without showing he is capable of being that.
Oh, he can run, run with power, with speed, with shiftiness. He can catch. He can block. He has shown all that.
In spurts, though. Just spurts.
This is not a wear-down-the-defense kinda guy here, people. Yeah, he looked fantastic in shorts and tank top, strutting that 6-foot, 233-pound frame around the combine. Hell, he looked great in a Penn State uniform, too.
But he never was a start-to-finish player for the Nittany Lions.
He’s a timebomb with no timer – bound to go off for a play, maybe two, in a game and that’s it. There is no consistent production history within the context of most games he has played since departing Whitehall High in the Lehigh Valley.
Now, frankly, that may be enough to satisfy, if not thrill, the New York Giants, their fan base and Barkley worshippers the globe over.
Yo, no doubt home-run hitters are great to have and Barkley certainly is one. It’s just when it comes to projecting a legit future for him, most would be wise to think of him in the Albert Pujols as an Angel mold rather than in the Pujols as a Cardinal vein.
In 38 games in college, including 36 as a starter, Barkley posted 15 games of 100 yards rushing or better. Umm, that’s not a lot for a feature back at that level, regardless of the type of offense.
But it goes beyond that. It even goes beyond him being the second-best player in Penn State’s backfield the last two seasons.
In his final game for the Lions, Barkley went for 137 yards on 18 carries against Washington. Great game, right? Not really. The kid ripped off one great run, a 92-yard touchdown jaunt, and went 17-for-45 the rest of the way.
Against Michigan this past fall, in the “game that sealed the Heisman” that he never won, Barkley busted loose for a 69-yard score on his first carry, then could only muster 39 more yards on his next 14.
Against Ohio State, a 36-yard TD run. The rest: 20 carries for 8 yards.
Against Michigan State, a 36-yard run. The rest: 13 carries, 27 yards.
Against Northwestern, a 53-yard TD run. The rest: 15 for 22.
Against Indiana, he went 20-for-56.
Against Rutgers, 14-for-35.
Yeah, he’s dangerous. He will rip off a long one, either by taking a handoff, hauling in a pass, or, if the Giants dare to allow, by returning a kick.
But he’s not a workhorse. Not in terms of being consistently productive at least.
He will disappear. For long periods of time. In fact, if he doesn’t rip off a long one in a game, his productivity in that game, as history shows, will be nil or not far removed from it.
That is the nature of his game.
So praise him all you want. It’s just you might want to be aware of what, or who, you’re actually praising.