This is a headline that would not have seemed possible just a few short months ago, but with the teams selecting before the Bucs in the 2018 NFL Draft (just a few weeks away) focused on drafting Quarterbacks there is now a possibility that Saquon Barkley, running back from Penn State University, could end up in Tampa Bay’s lap at the #7 pick.
Barkley is considered to be the most surefire bet in this year’s class of prospects and there was a time where he was expected to go #1 overall. But the respected folks at Pro Football Focus, who have Barkley rated as the #2 best prospect in the draft, are predicting in their latest mock draft that Barkley will be wearing the red and pewter of the Bucs in a few weeks. Saquon had a phenomenal senior campaign for the Nittany Lions turning the heads of pro scouts everywhere while also finishing a respectable 4th in the Heisman voting for the best player in college football. Runningback is an incredibly important position to get right, and Barkley represents the most NFL-ready prospect at the position in recent memory and would add some excitement to the Bucs roster as well as a player who could be the favorite for the starting job on day one.
However, some Bucs fans and beat reporters are less excited about the potential of adding Barkley. The primary complaint is that the Bucs could address other more pressing roster holes with the #7 pick, a fair viewpoint. The Tampa Bay offensive line is in dire need of a revamp that is for certain and adding a big guard like Quenton Nelson from Notre Dame may be a perfect fit as well. Still, it would be incredibly difficult for the Bucs front office to justifying leaving one of the most polished prospects (Barkley) on the board for another team to gobble up.
Whether or not Barkley ends up in Tampa Bay remains to be seen and of course there still exists the possibility that he is taken with one of the first six picks, but if he remains on the board it may be seen as the stars aligning. In today’s game elite level runningbacks can only perform at the top of their game for a few seasons before injuries begin to add up, but Barkley has a real chance to inject life into the Bucs running game.