Lead Fantasy Writer
Barkley vs Elliott
Nothing is guaranteed in life. Not money, not happiness, not even tomorrow. The same goes for draft picks in the NFL. There are no guarantees of greatness just because you were or weren’t a superstar in college. If college stardom is a guarantee of NFL eliteness how do you explain players like Tim Tebow and Joey Harrington failing as first-round picks, meanwhile you have Tom Brady becoming the best quarterback of all-time. I think I heard once or twice he was drafted number 199. Football, despite what people may think is not a perfect game, the coaches, the players, and the talent evaluators make mistakes every day so again there is no guarantee.
With that out of the way, let us look at a player many consider to be the best in the class of 2018 and how he compares to a player of the same size (6”225lb as compared to Barkley at 5’11 and 230lb), with much of the same skill set and from the same conference in college to see what could be in store for Saquon Barkley.
When Ezekiel Elliott came out of Ohio State and was drafted number four by the Dallas Cowboys, there were a few things which stuck out about him to scouts. He was a terrific hard runner and the best pass blocker many have seen in college football. Well, let us take a look at those numbers compared to Mr. Barkley.
In his final year of college, Elliott had a Pass block execution rate of 94% meaning when asked to block, the quarterback was not at risk of a monster hit. What about Barkley you ask? His execution rate was 93% which ranked second amongst all college running backs over the past three seasons behind only Elliott. Both of these players are not afraid to get physical to support their quarterbacks and this fact is not lost on teams looking to draft them or quarterbacks on those teams. The biggest issue with incoming running backs is the need to take them off the field for veterans due to their lack of blocking talent, but in this case, with these players, they are true three-down backs from jump street.
Let’s move now on to production from the backfield. In 2017 Saquon Barkley ran 217 times for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground along with 632 yards and three touchdowns on 54 catches not to mention two kick return touchdowns thrown in for good measure. Now, how do these compare to Elliott in his final season in 2015? Let’s look. Elliott carried the ball 289 times for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns, which ate incredible numbers and are favorable in comparison to Barkley but to go along with those rushing yards he only had 27 receptions for 206 yards and zero touchdowns meaning Barkley was much more of a receiving threat out of the backfield to go along with the rushing and blocking. While Elliott averaged 6.3 yards per attempt on the ground and 6.4 yards per touch including his receptions, Barkley similarly averaged 5.9 yards per attempt and 7.0 yards per touch making it clear, anything you may think you lose in rushing, you more than makeup for in receiving. While he was the clear workhorse for Penn State in 2017, he also touched the ball over 30 times less then Ezekiel Elliott in his final college season.
With the measurements being so similar for both of these players and with a good chance Barkley will have a solid offensive line to run behind if drafted by Cleveland, Barkley can and should produce a similar rookie season to Elliott in 2018 and with his catching ability, could be even better. But don’t forget, there are no guarantees.
Head Fantasy Writer
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