Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout for three NFL teams and now a draft analyst for the NFL Network, spent Tuesday afternoon fielding questions about the upcoming NFL draft: What do you think about Christian McCaffrey? Should the Eagles take a cornerback in the first round?
But when asked about a possible 2018 selection — Penn State running back Saquon Barkley — Jeremiah perked up.
“I was at the Rose Bowl,” Jeremiah said, before pausing briefly, “And yeah, that was pretty good.”
Barkley, who introduced himself to the nation with 306 all-purpose yards in “The Granddaddy of Them All,” wasn’t eligible to enter the draft this year. But at the 2018 draft, many expect Barkley to be in the Green Room, waiting for his name to be called. He’s not only a Heisman favorite, but also a future first-round selection.
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Jeremiah watched Barkley live twice: at Northwestern in 2015, when the then-true freshman racked up 120 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns, and then of course in Pasadena.
Both times the former Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens scout came away impressed.
“He’s a special player,” Jeremiah said. “He’s just unique with his size and overall explosiveness that he brings.”
Jeremiah’s colleague at the NFL Network — former NFL rushing leader Maurice Jones-Drew — saw it, too. Jones-Drew, a three-time Pro-Bowler, was fascinated with Barkley’s performance in the Rose Bowl, especially the Nittany Lion’s 79-yard touchdown run.
“He has some juice, man,” the former Jacksonville Jaguars running back said. “He showed a little bit of everything. He showed his burst. He showed his vision, his cutting ability, the way he breaks through arm tackles, and then the speed at the end. He’s definitely a guy that everyone will be watching.”
Jones-Drew said he expects Barkley to have a strong NFL career, thanks to everything displayed in that stellar scoring run.
Jeremiah thinks so, too.
The former scout said in terms of height, weight and speed, Barkley compares favorably to LSU All-American Leonard Fournette. “But I think he’s a little more elusive than Leonard is,” Jeremiah added. “He’s a special dude.”
For reference, Jeremiah has Fournette going No. 4 overall in his latest mock draft. That begs the question: Where will Barkley land this time next year, if he declares for the NFL draft after his junior season?
Jeremiah said to tread lightly for now considering Barkley is an underclassman.
“But wherever the draft is next year,” Jeremiah said, “he wouldn’t have to plan on staying very long.”