Scouting Report: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Saquon Barkley | 5’11 | 233 | reported 4.43 40 by CBS


Context:

Games Watched:

  • v. 5 Ohio State (12-2) (BIG10) (8th in YPCa, 7th in YPGa, T-21st in TDa) 21a / 44yds / 2.1ypc / 1 GTD -|- 4c / 23yds
  • v. Indiana (5-7) (BIG10) (40th in YPCa, 57th in YPGa, T-53rd in TDa) 20a / 56yds / 2.8ypc -|- 4c / 51yds
  • v. 16 Washington (Fiesta Bowl) (10-3) (PAC12) (1st in YPCa, 1st in YPGa, T-7th in TDa)18a / 137yds / 7.6ypc / 2 GTD -|- 7c / 38yds
  • @ Iowa (8-5) (BIG10) (51st in YPCa, 38th in YPGa, T-9th in TDa) *18a / 211yds / 7.5ypc / 1 GTD -|- 12c / 94yds *

Career Stats

Year Games Played Carries Rush Yards YPC GTDs Catches Receiving Yards ATDs
2015 11 182 1076 5.9 7 20 161 1
2016 14 272 1496 5.5 18 28 402 4
2017 13 217 1271 5.9 18 54 632 3

Accolades

  • 2015 Freshman All-American
  • 2015 2nd team all BIG10
  • 2016+2017 1st team all BIG10
  • 2016+2017 BIG10 OPotY
  • 2016+2017 RB of the year
  • 2017 Consensus All-American
  • 2017 BIG10 Return Specialist of the year
  • Most career TDs @Penn State
  • Most yds in 1 game @Penn State
  • Most yds by a Freshman @Penn State
  • Most yds by a Sophomore @Penn State

Injuries and workload

Aside from sitting out two games his freshman year, he is a picture of health. He makes a few cuts every game that make me questions how long it is before there’s a torn ACL for a player his size but, it hasn’t happened yet so it is not yet a cause of concern. He has an incredibly high workload with nearly 800 total touches for 5000 yards in three years. This tells me two things, he can handle the workload and he will be getting the same treatment LeVeon is getting when he asks to get paid real money after his rookie contract. There are very few teams in the league that are going to pay a guy who averages 325-350 touches a season (assuming similar pro usage numbers spread across 16 games, ex. Lamar Miller got 244 this season and LeVeon had 406) for 4 years+1 team op year+1 franchise tag year on a long second contract. It isn’t how the position works and that is disappointing but, I would expect Saquon to command a tag like that down the road.


Pros:

Best: Burst, Finishing with elusiveness, Receiving

Barkley’s athletic ability is good to very good, defined by elite frame (32.5 BMI at 5’11 233), very good balance and acceleration, good to very good long speed, and solid strength and agility. In his toughness, he has been a captain, drives his feet, competes vs all competition, consistent level of play, and is reliable on 3rd/4th down and the goal line. He has good vision displayed by very good ability to improvise when the play breaks down, good ability to find cutback lanes, good ability to adjust on the fly in gap runs and good ability to find daylight on Inside Zone and solid ability to find daylight on Outside Zone and Gap runs. He has very good burst exampled in elite ability to stop on a dime, very good at forcing defenders to change their pursuit angles, good to very good at getting more than what’s blocked, and good ability to get to top speed and separate from LOS. He is good at creating yards after contact and finishing runs; he is elite at using elusiveness and speed to create space, good to very good at finishing against LBs and DBs, good at finishing with balance, and solid at finishing with strength, falling forward and taking on DL. He is an elite receiver out of the backfield displayed by always catching with his hands, having an elite catch radius, being good at creating separation in all ways (through burst, strength or finding weak spots in zones), good at presenting himself to the QB and can be effective split out wide or out of the backfield, running a varying deep (for an RB) route tree. As a pass protector, he has solid technique. He does not appear to have any ball security issues, holding the ball high and tight through traffic and in the correct hand on the edge.


Cons:

Worst: Falling forward, Vision discipline, Toughness

Athletically, the only thing he lacks in is an adequate change of direction, often tripping himself up when trying to make precise cuts. He has adequate mental processing, due to not looking off defenders, not always reading his blocks properly and taking the open holes, and adequate to solid at identifying protections and blitzers as a pass protector. His toughness is adequate. He doesn’t seem to be particularly aggressive, he is adequate at rising to contact and prefers to try to juke his way out of it (often successfully), he has stopped his feet in the hole vs all defenders, adequate to solid at embracing contact and heading into groups, and does not have a specifically high motor off ball. His vision is undisciplined on all run types when his first and second pre-snap choices aren’t there, constantly looking to bounce to the outside or cut all the way back across the formation appearing over-eager for the home run play, even when 3 free yards are blocked. In his YAC and finishing, he does not run with the power you expect a 230 pounder who reportedly lives for the weight room to run with. As a pass protector, he doesn’t seem to want to block, is adequate to solid at identifying assignments, and is adequate at anchoring specifically against EDGE/LBs bull rush. Another small thing I noticed when watching him run is that he tends to break arm tackles on his upper body but, when you arm tackle his legs he goes down easily.


Pro Comp. and Projections:

Pro Comp:

  • Ceiling: David Johnson
  • Floor: Ty Montgomery
  • Reasoning: He is a very athletic back who doubles as a receiver and runs with solid power but, is better at using elusiveness. He has shown he is able to be a team’s feature back and the amount of touches that entails.

Projection:

3 down starting RB you can potentially win because of or at the very least with. I would question his pass pro to remain in on third down but, teams will likely use him as a receiving threat rather than leave him in to protect. He will not turn a team around that cannot block for him. The Ohio State game proved that he should really go to a team that has an established set of guys on the OL to create holes for him because without that, he can’t freelance running lanes like he prefers to do currently. Also, I do not project him to be used as a KR/PR as, it is very unlikely he is fielded at these positions regularly and will likely only be used there in important situations (ex. PIT’s deployment of Antonio Brown as a PR late in close games). Top picks don’t return kicks. I would expect him to go top 15 at the very lowest and to show out at the combine, barring unforeseen medical/legal issues.




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