Saquon Barkley is about to find out his 2018 NFL Draft just before the rest of us watching on TV.
Until then, we’re left to wonder where he’ll end up. The Browns at No. 1 is (almost certainly) out of the picture for him, but the Giants at No. 2, Browns again at No. 4 and the Buccaneers at No. 7 are all potential landing spots for the former Penn State star. For the purposes of this post, we’ll consider teams that have a realistic shot at actually drafting him. Sure, he’d look great filling an open spot with the Lions at No. 20, but that’s not going to happen.
(Time for a disclaimer: You certainly have the right to argue no team should take a running back in the top 5, top 10, or even in the first round at all. But this isn’t about whether a team should draft Barkley. This is about where he’d be in the best position to succeed. Someone’s going to take Barkley, so we’re going to grade where he’ll fit best. Cool? Cool.)
1. New York Giants at No. 2
The Giants are rumored to be a top contender for Barkley, and it makes sense. Teams that are the best fit for a running back are usually the kind of teams that can “afford” to take one. The Giants fall into that category as well as any team that will have a shot at taking him. If they’re trying to make the most of whatever Eli Manning has left, teaming him up with Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. seems like the way to do that. Some slight improvement from an offensive line that was 15th in adjusted line yards, an advanced stat that measures how much of an impact the line has on run plays, would make this as good a fit as he’ll find near the top of the draft.
Related: Here’s our 2018 NFL mock draft
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 7
The Bucs spend fewer dollars at the running back spot than all but one team in the NFL, per Spotrac. Their starter, Jacquizz Rodgers, is an unrestricted free agent after 2018. Barkley would be a heck of a replacement, and would be able to work all over the field in 2018 as he splits reps with Rodgers. Running back shouldn’t be a priority for the Bucs, but you couldn’t blame them if they decided they couldn’t pass on Barkley should he fall to No. 7.
3. Cleveland Browns at No. 4
The Browns still have the No. 4 pick. Assuming they take a quarterback at No. 1, that would open them up for a player like Barkley at No. 4. Let him take some pressure off Cleveland’s quarterback of the future and pair that with an improving defense and a line that ranked 14th in adjusted line yards last season, and Barkley could be just what the Browns need. And even if it’s hard to believe in the Browns, they are in position to make a killing at the draft this season. And if you’re doubting the Browns’ interest in Barkley at No. 4, well, here’s what their general manager said about Barkley at No. 1:
Though most people believe the #Browns are zeroed in on a QB, GM John Dorsey says “why wouldn’t I” be when asked if he’s still considering Saquon Barkley at No. 1.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 19, 2018