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NFL Draft Scouting Report – Saquon Barkley

Brian Peacock

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© Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State  | 5-11, 230 | 4.40 (estimated)

Strengths:

–Built low to the ground with short, thick legs, which aids short area explosion and quicks
–Easy breakaway speed (rumors of 4.3 40-yd dash)
–Moves like a much smaller back
–Plus-plus receiving ability, not just hands, but good route runner that can be split out
–Good in pass protection
–Shows power to bowl over defenders at times, but prefers to go around or leap over
–Adds value as return man
–Reports that character is off the charts, both on and off the field
–Coaches use his work ethic and weight room habits as an example

Weaknesses:

–Over half his 1200 yards in 2017 came in 4 games, failing to break 100 yards in 8 games
–Penn State runs a shotgun spread system, lots of zone read, so you don’t get to see him follow a FB
–Not the interior runner you would expect for a 230-pound back
–Likes to bounce everything outside, which leads to big runs, but also too many negative plays
–Needs to be more decisive between the tackles, hitting smaller creases

Best Case Comparison: David Johnson, LaDainian Tomlinson
Worst Case Comparison: Reggie Bush

Barkley is more compact than Johnson, but has that same dual threat ability. And like Johnson, easily out-athletes college defenders around the corner. Physically, Barkley should have no problem running between the tackles in the NFL, he just needs to take what he can inside more often and not get cute looking for the big play every time. You never want to say a prospect is bust-proof, but Barkley is close. Like former No. 2 pick Reggie Bush, if Barkley disappoints, he will still have value in passing game and as a return man.

Summary and Fit for 49ers:

Top-10 talent that fits the current NFL style of play.  Barkley has the size to carry the load and receiving skills to not just stay on the field every down, but be a true weapon in the passing game. He has a near perfect set of tools for Kyle Shanahan’s inside/outside zone running game. The two biggest questions: will Barkley still be on the board at pick 9/10? Doubtful. And does Shanahan value the RB position enough — with his ability to get production from lesser talents — to select one top-10 rather than wait for value later in another deep draft class at the position.

 

 

Host of LOCKED ON 49ERS and Bay Area radio reporter. Former Pro Football Focus analyst, Rotowire contributor and KNBR producer. All you need to know about Brian is he once left his Community College baseball team to go on tour with his band, so he is both extremely dedicated and completely unreliable.

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