Cleveland Browns draft profile: Saquon Barkley

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Running back Saquon Barkley (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Saquon Barkley is considered one of the can’t miss players of this draft. Some experts are saying he’s the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. The only question seems to be if his positional value will be held against him.

The 2018 NFL Draft has a deep running back class for the Cleveland Browns to consider. With that said, Saquon Barkley still stands at the top of the list.

Although combine performances are not an accurate measurement of how a prospect will play on Sundays, they can say something about a player. Barkley didn’t have to crush the combine, but he did. And in doing so, he made a statement that in a deep running back class he not only wanted to be different, he was different.

However, Barkley plays a position that does not have the positional value of an edge rusher or defensive back which has experts and fans alike questioning if the Cleveland Browns should take Barkley with either of their two first-round picks.

Let’s take a look at why many experts are calling Barkley a generational talent.

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Strengths: A Five-Tool Player

As NFL offenses evolve so have the expectations of the running back position. Gone are the days of three yards and a cloud of dust. Today’s running back is expected to catch passes both out of the backfield and in the slot. They also need to be able to pickup blitzers so that his quarterback stays upright. Joe Moorehead his former offensive coordinator and current Mississippi State head coach had this to say about Barkley:

"“He’s a five-tool guy. He can do it all. He has speed, power, can run through you or hurdle over you. You can put him in the slot. He can return kicks. And he’s worked hard to become a great pass protector.” – Joe Moorehead, Mississippi State head coach"

Weaknesses: Is He a Three-Down Back?

One of the common criticisms attributed to Barkley is that he doesn’t run between the tackles and looks to bounce a run outside too quickly. Looking at his film, you see that he does, indeed, bounce runs outside but in many cases it’s after he’s past the line of scrimmage. However, in Penn State’s game against Rutgers last year, largely viewed as one of his “worst” games, Barkley shows ample power at the point of contact.

Barkley’s versatility will give defensive coordinators fits as they create their game plans. For example, here’s Barkley lining up as a slot receiver in an empty formation against Michigan.


For those who believe Barkley is a special talent, nothing needs to be said. For those that are convinced he is not that much better than other running backs in the draft, no amount of highlights will convince them otherwise. The truly fascinating thing about Barkley is how such an obvious selection can be an almost polarizing figure.

Here’s what one NFL General Manager had to say:

"“You don’t screw up the special ones when you are a talent evaluator. This guy is special. Any concerns you file on him just feels like nitpicking to fill out the report.” – Unnamed NFL general manager via Lance Zierlein"

Next: Draft profile: Arden Key

One thing is for sure the Cleveland Browns have a decision to make, and Barkley is certainly worth serious consideration.