Saquon Barkley has flashed the potential to become an outstanding running back in the NFL. The 21-year-old was truly dominant in his college career for the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Almost every week Barkley put on a clinic for his team, making a decisive play to turn a result in their favour. He boasts an explosive running style and elite speed to break away from defenders.
The back has the toughness and endurance to become an All-Pro and is widely considered to be the best player in the 2018 Draft. Barkley reeled off three-straight seasons of 1,000 yards rushing yards during his college career, scoring 43 rushing and eight receiving touchdowns.
However, the need for quarterbacks at the top of the Draft could push him out of the top five, despite his talent. Barkley has odds of +300 to be taken beyond the sixth selection with BetOnline, which could be a worthwhile punt. We’ll now look at why the teams situated in those positions could select or pass on the running back.
The Browns are unlikely to take Barkley with the first-overall pick. The club have passed too many times on quarterbacks over the past two seasons, missing out on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. As a result, Hue Jackson and John Dorsey cannot take the running back at number one. Their focus will solely be on trying to establish a quality future starter at the quarterback position, with Tyrod Taylor taking on the role for the 2018 campaign.
Cleveland could come into play with the fourth-overall selection should the New York Giants and the New York Jets pass on Barkley. The AFC North outfit tried to pull off the same move in 2012 when they added Trent Richardson with the third-overall selection. That decision did not yield success, although they were able to save their investment by gaining a first-round pick from the Indianapolis Colts.
The Browns have needs on defense, especially in the secondary. Players like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James could be alluring, with the club in need of quality playmakers. Bradley Chubb could also be a worthwhile selection, which could give Jackson’s men a bookend pass-rusher to pair with Myles Garrett – their first-overall pick from last year. The smart move would be to boost their offense with Barkley to pair with Carlos Hyde in the running back room. However, the Browns have made curious moves in the past.
The Giants have been crying out for a running back since Ahmad Bradshaw retired. The pressure has solely been on Eli Manning and the passing attack to carry the fortunes of the team. New York became one dimensional under the tenure of Ben McAdoo – both in his time as offensive coordinator and head coach. Therefore a move to select Barkley would be a worthwhile move to get the best out Manning as he approaches the end of his career. It would also free space for Odell Beckham Jr, Evan Engram and Sterling Shephard in the receiving corps.
New York could also use the second-overall pick to draft Manning’s successor. The quarterback has shown signs of struggle over the past two campaigns. His poor form last term was understandable as Manning lost the majority of the weapons from his passing attack. However, the Giants have to be prepared in case he tails off like his brother Peyton did at the climax of his career. Pat Shurmur’s will have a lot of options to choose from at the top, pending who the Browns select first overall. The new head coach could be keen to stamp his mark on the team and plan ahead for life without Manning. Although the need is there, circumstance could see Barkley fall behind the Giants.
The Jets moved up to the third-overall pick in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts. Todd Bowles’ men had to shift capital to make the switch, moving up three spots in the process. The consensus suggests that the club did that to secure their quarterback of the future. New York signed Teddy Bridgewater to a short-term deal along with retaining the services of veteran Josh McCown. That could put them in position to allow a young quarterback to sit behind the duo and develop his game. The Jets may have to settle for their third choice with the Browns and the Giants poised to select quarterbacks, but they will have made the moving knowing the situation.
Although Barkley has the ability to be a gamechanger, New York have already invested in the running back position during free agency. They added Isaiah Crowell and Thomas Rawls, who have both flashed potential in their careers with the Browns and the Seattle Seahawks respectively. It is unlikely the club would sink further capital into a position where they also have veteran Bilal Powell. As a result, Barkley could drop to number four, giving the Browns a second chance. Should they opt out he will head down further.
The Broncos hold a lot of power holding the fifth-overall pick. They were in the hunt to sign Kirk Cousins, but were not able to convince him to move to Colorado. Case Keenum was added instead fresh off his impressive campaign with the Minnesota Vikings. Keenum may plug into the starting role, although the Broncos will still have hope that former first-round pick Paxton Lynch can rise to the occasion. Therefore their need for a quarterback is not essential, but if their man falls into their laps they are in position to strike.
Denver also made the decision to release CJ Anderson from their roster. Anderson had issues with injuries, but was their starting running back in their Super Bowl 50 triumph. The club only have three running backs on the roster and that could allow them to snag Barkley should he fall to them at number five. However, given the desperate need for quarterbacks in the NFL, the Broncos could trade the selection if their man is not there to receive a haul of picks in exchange. That could set the club up for the long term, with holes beginning to emerge on their defense. Barkley could be the victim of the quarterback need at the top of the Draft, despite his talent.
Saquon Barkley To Be Selected After Fifth Pick 2018 Draft
Thursday 26th April 2018 20:00 ET (Friday 27th April 01:00 BST)