Saquon Barkley is a “transformational” running back, a player who can alter the state of a franchise immediately, according to NFL.com draft expert Mike Mayock.
And he believes Barkley should be valued as such in April’s NFL draft.
“I would be absolutely stunned if this kid doesn’t go in the top 5,” Mayock said in a conference call Monday afternoon.
Mayock, regarded by many as the NFL’s top draft guru, put Barkley in the same conversation as the last four top-10 running back selections: Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey.
Mayock said Barkley might even have a step on those stars.
“They all helped their teams become better,” the analyst said, “and I can make the case that this kid Barkley is the best of those guys, the best of all five of them.”
Since the start of the 2017 college football season, Barkley has drawn comparisons to Gurley, Elliott and even Barry Sanders. The Coplay native’s 5,038 yards and 51 touchdowns from scrimmage in three years solidified him as one of Penn State’s greatest players ever. Oddly enough, Barkley could become the first running back drafted No. 1 overall since Nittany Lion legend Ki-Jana Carter in 1995.
In the meantime, Barkley has a chance to further prove his case as a top-5 pick in a few days. The running back’s on-field workouts at the NFL Combine take place Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Ahead of the Combine, Mayock — NFL Network’s lead analyst at the event — was asked why the experience matters to Barkley.
Mayock said in the team interviews, Barkley will “blow away” coaches and executives. And on the field, “all it is is confirmation of his physical gifts.”
“For him, it ought to be a victory celebration,” Mayock said. “He ought to go in, knock it down one drill after another, and he’s going to walk out of there four days later and everyone’s going to go, ‘Wow, he’s just as good or better than we thought he was.’”