Next year’s NFL draft is sure to be a lot different for Penn State.
For starters, the Nittany Lions have the potential to reach near double-digits in terms of draft picks. But, maybe more interestingly, Penn State should finally break its 7-year drought of not having a first-rounder — thanks to Saquon Barkley.
Barkley is arguably the top running back in the nation right now, and he’s already generating hype for the 2018 draft. Yes, it’s early — way too early — to get an accurate look at next year’s selections. But we decided to take a look at multiple mock drafts for next season just to see where Barkley might be headed, if for no other reason than to see just how talented some draft analysts think he is already.
Here’s what those mock drafts are saying about Barkley:
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CBS Sports, Will Brinson: Barkley goes No. 13 overall (Philadelphia Eagles)
Brinson: “The Eagles invested in Donnel Pumphrey during this draft, but now they’re interested in getting a workhorse.”
Bleacher Report, Matt Miller: Barkley goes No. 3 overall (New York Jets)
Miller: “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.”
Sporting News, Eric Galko: Barkley goes No. 2 overall (Cleveland Browns)
Galko: “Barkley is a special talent who may grade as high as, if not higher than, Leonard Fournette and Ezekiel Elliott.”
Walter Football, Walter Cherepinsky: Barkley goes No. 3 overall (San Francisco 49ers)
Cherepinsky: “Saquon Barkley ran a 4.33 at the Penn State pro day in March and appears to be a potential top-five prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft.”
Fox Sports, Dieter Kurtenbach: Barkley goes No. 8 overall (Baltimore Ravens)
Kurtenbach: “Baltimore needs to be more explosive on offense in 2018 — Barkley is a special talent who will make an impact on four downs.”
USA Today, Luke Easterling: Barkley goes No. 3 overall (New York Jets)
Easterling: “If the Jets didn’t take a quarterback in this year’s draft, I don’t see them passing up a back like Barkley for anyone but (USC QB Sam) Darnold.”
The Big Lead, Jason McIntyre: Barkley goes No. 7 overall (San Francisco 49ers)
McIntyre: “The running back trend continues. Barkley is 5-foot-11, 220-pounds, and those are Le’Veon Bell dimensions.”
Pro Football Focus, Steve Palazzolo: Barkley goes No. 15 overall (Detroit Lions)
Palazzolo: “Barkley can make an impact as a runner and a receiver, and he’s dynamic in the open field, adding a versatile playmaker to the Detroit offense.”
Sports Illustrated, Chris Burke: Barkley goes No. 10 overall (Philadelphia Eagles)
Burke: “The (very) early expectation is that Barkley will lead the ’18 running back class, carrying the same hype as Ezekiel Elliott or Leonard Fournette. The likely Heisman contender has size and speed.”