Yes, we expect a draft prospect’s former coach to say great things about the prospect. (Jim Mora didn’t that memo.) Penn State coach James Franklin, despite his obvious bias, makes a sensible argument in favor of running back Saquon Barkley.
“If there was a no-brainer quarterback out there or a couple of them that were just head and shoulders above everybody else and didn’t have question marks, then you take the quarterback every time,” Franklin said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “From the stuff I’ve seen and heard, that’s not really the case.”
Franklin is right. Every incoming quarterback has a flaw, an area of concern, a reason for not making that quarterback the first overall pick. For Barkley, the primary knock is that great running backs can be gotten in every round of the draft, and sometimes not in the draft at all. But if Barkley is truly regarded as a can’t-miss prospect, and if none of the quarterbacks are, maybe Barkley should be the pick.
“There are knocks on all those [quarterbacks], whether it’s decision-making, completion percentage, whether it’s touchdown-to-interception ratio, whether it’s body type, whether it’s leadership, whether it’s character,” Franklin said. “In the NFL, in college football and then really kind of in business in general, what everybody’s trying to do is you’re trying to reduce risk, and that’s what you get with Saquon.”
Franklin’s only negative assessment of Barkley also could be regarded as a positive, with Franklin calling Barkley’s off-the-charts Scouting Combine performance “very average.”
“I know he’s done 34 reps of 225 [pounds] multiple times,” Franklin said. “I would not have been surprised if he would have run in the 4.2s at the Combine, and I say that because our Combine numbers are almost identical year in and year out at what we’ve tested guys at. What we tell the scouts our guys run, they run at the Combine, and he’s run 4.3 here forever. So he actually had a fairly average Combine.”
Barkley likely won’t have a fairly average career. And any team that passes on him for a passer who ends up being worse than average will surely regret missing the chance to draft Barkley.