National media members, scouts and coaches think the world of Saquon Barkley — and SI.com is no different.
Barkley is the No. 1 player on The MMQB’s 2018 NFL draft big board, drawing comparisons to a particular Pittsburgh Steelers running back.
“Barkley is a true workhorse back who would be a first-round prospect solely on his ability as a runner,” The MMQB staff wrote. “Add in his passing-game skills — think Le’Veon Bell, a big back who has the ability to create separation when lined up as a receiver—and he’s custom-built for the modern NFL.”
The rankings, released Tuesday afternoon, listed the top 50 prospects. Penn State safety Marcus Allen and tight end Mike Gesicki — a couple of probable Day 2 selections — didn’t make the cut.
But Barkley sat atop the rankings. Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb and Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds rounded out the top five.
Barkley was one of five running backs listed, joining LSU’s Derrius Guice, USC’s Ronald Jones II, Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson and Georgia’s Sony Michel.
But outside of Guice and maybe Jones II, Barkley is the only ballcarrier with first-round potential. Many, including ESPN’s Todd McShay, peg Barkley as the fourth or fifth player off the board.
If the Cleveland Browns take The MMQB’s No. 1 prospect, Barkley would be Penn State’s first top selection since Courtney Brown in 1999. Ironically, Brown was drafted by the Browns.
And naturally, the last running back to be taken with the top spot? Nittany Lion legend Ki-Jana Carter in 1995 by the Cincinnati Bengals. Go figure.
Barkley will have a chance to further prove that he’s deserving of No. 1 overall status at the NFL Combine in a couple weeks. He is joined in Indianapolis by seven former teammates: Allen, Gesicki, DaeSean Hamilton, Jason Cabinda, Grant Haley, Christian Campbell and Troy Apke.