With the bulk of free agency behind us it is full steam ahead towards the 2018 NFL Draft. The San Francisco 49ers made multiple signings in free agency including running back Jerick McKinnon. With the contract he signed we figure to see McKinnon used quite a bit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. I liked the signing, and McKinnon’s style of running and playmaking ability seem to be a fit in this offense.
Gone is Carlos Hyde (Signed with the Cleveland Browns), and the running back depth looks like the following. I mentioned Jerick McKinnon, and with him on the depth chart is Matt Breida, Joe Williams, Raheem Mostert, and Jeremy McNichols. Even with McKinnon signed, this depth chart seems to leave a little to be desired with more questions than answers. Is McKinnon a three down back? Doe Joe Williams have a future on this team? Is Breida in the long term plans?
This all leads us to our scouting profile of Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. Let’s make one thing clear. I am not expecting Barkley to drop to the ninth overall pick in the draft. A trade-up would most likely have to happen. However, just in case John Lynch gets any crazy ideas, let’s take a closer look as to why Barkley is one of the best, if not the best player this draft class has to offer.
Weight: 233 lbs.
Arms: 31 1/8”
Hands: 9 1/2”
40 Yard Dash: 4.40
Bench Press: 29 Reps
Vertical Jump: 41.0 Inches
20 yd. Shuttle: 4.24
1,271 yards on 5.9 yards per carry, 18 touchdowns. 54 receptions, 632 yards and 3 touchdowns.
- Dual Threat Abilities as both a ball carrier and receiver.
- Solid vision, with the ability to find open holes as a runner.
- Strong spacial awareness as a receiver. Lethal in open space.
- A strong frame, with a muscular foundation.
- Elite straight-line and lateral burst.
- Cuts are clean and footwork is precise carrying the ball.
- Positive results on special teams (2 kickoff returns for touchdowns)
- Plays tough and competitive. Gets stronger as the game goes on.
- Has the ability to adjust his running lanes and receiving routes.
- Reads the defense and will press the line to make adjustments when needed.
- Strong, reliable hands. Takes care off the football.
- Home-run Threat whenever he is on the field.
- Had some difficulty breaking tackles against defenders, especially running north-south.
- Was inconsistent at times as a pass defender and taking on blocks.
- Wont always commit to his initial running lane and will scramble at the line of scrimmage.
- Small target window as a receiver leaving the passer with little room for error.
Barkley is going to be a special player at the next level. He is one of those players who is going to instantly improve the outlook of your football team for the better. It wasn’t a surprise that Barkley was amongst the best performers at the NFL Combine and took the roof of Lucas Oil Stadium with his workout. Barkley is a day one workhorse starter at the next level. A ball carrier capable of being a three down back. Some, including myself consider Barkley to be the number one overall player in this draft, and for good reason. Barkley has lethal speed, with elite balance, vision, poise, and elusiveness. A power back, that can shift and cut, evading the quickest defenders. His cutting ability is among the best I have ever studied.
Barkley is the number one home run threat in this draft class. His solid vision and patience leads to big yardage gains and short field positioning to set up the offense. Barkley’s burst is amongst the best this class has to offer. A dual-threat offensive weapon who is just as dangerous catching the ball as he is carrying it. A special player on special teams who returned two to the house this past season. Between his abilities as a back, receiver, and return specialist on special teams, I believe Barkley is the most valuable player in this draft class. Barkley is truly a special talent, and worthy of a top five selection.
Is he a fit for the 49ers? Absolutely, without a doubt. However, the likelihood of Barkley dropping to the ninth pick is near impossible. Obviously, crazy things happen on draft night, but Barkley falling in the 49ers lap would be a miracle. It is almost a guarantee that the 49ers would need to trade up into at least the top 5 and perhaps the top 4 to secure Barkley. That would require an enormous amount of draft capital. Something I don’t see the 49ers willing to part with.
What are your thoughts on Saquon Barkley? Is he a fit for the 49ers? Would he be worth the cost to move up in the draft? Will he be the best running back from this draft class 5 years from now? Please share in the comments below!