In recent years, a number of talented running backs have joined the NFL ranks and this year it is Penn State’s Saquon Barkley.
Barkley is a rare talent that has an incredible combination of size and speed, which led to the star rusher emerging as the Heisman Trophy favorite for the early part of the season.
Ultimately, the Nittany Lions fell off, but Barkley kept running strong.
The 5-foot-11, 230 pounder finished the year with 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also flashed ability as a receiver out of the backfield, hauling in a career-high 54 catches for 632 yards and three score.
There’s no denying Barkley’s talent, but who does he stack up to at the next level? A handful of NFL executives shared their thoughts with NFL.com.
Out of the five executives, they all had different opinions.
One executive compared Barkley to a better version of former Ohio State and current Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott, saying, “I was at the game a few years ago when Elliott and Barkley shared the same field. As impressive as Elliott was, Barkley was the better player. They have similar skill sets but Barkley is better in every area.”
Another comparison was Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson: “My first thought — Superman. Since I can’t use him, I’ll say David Johnson. Both of these guys are such complete, 3-down backs. Barkley’s lower-body strength and explosiveness are pretty tough to match, though.”
And how about Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who is in the mix for this year’s NFL Rookie of the Year award?
“He’s a better version of Kareem Hunt. Better body frame, better feet and hips, quicker, more explosive, more elusive, better hands and he’s faster,” the executive said.
Other comparisons were Joe Mixon and Corey Dillon.
Barkley is a clear-cut first-round prospect and many believe he could hear his name called within the first five picks in this spring’s draft. Wherever he lands, the team will be receiving an incredible talent.
The 2018 NFL Draft takes place April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.