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Mel Kiper Jr. Projects Saquon Barkley Will Be Picked No. 4 Overall

on January 18, 2018 6:29 PM

ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. predicts that former Penn State tailback Saquon Barkley will be selected No. 4 overall by the Cleveland Browns on April 26 in Dallas.

He isn’t the first ESPN expert to say that Saquon will land in Cleveland on draft day – Todd McShay projected that the Browns will select Barkley alongside USC quarterback Sam Darnold with their two top-10 picks in the NFL Draft. Kiper released his first mock draft Thursday afternoon, 19 days after Barkley officially declared his intention to leave Penn State in favor of the NFL.

Like McShay, Kiper projects that the Browns will select a QB-RB duo with their two top picks, but he thinks Cleveland will take Wyoming signal-caller Josh Allen with the No. 1 overall pick. Barkley is Mel Kiper’s No. 1 overall prospect in the draft, but he thinks the Nittany Lion All-American will slide to No. 4 because of the overall value of running backs in the NFL.

“How much do teams value running backs?” Kiper asks. “We’ve seen in recent years that [NFL teams] can hit on backs in the top 10 (Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley), but the Browns also have recent history missing on one (Trent Richardson) … And there is always value in the middle rounds — just look at Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara in 2017.”

That said, Kiper’s praise for Penn State’s No. 26 is very high, as he thinks that Barkley is the best running back prospect in the 2018 draft class.

“Barkley is a big-time running back and I think he’ll be a top-10 pick,” he says. “He is built for today’s NFL as a do-it-all runner and pass catcher out of the backfield.”

We’ll find out Barkley’s NFL destination on April 26. The 2018 NFL Draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and will be broadcast on ESPN and NFL Network.

 

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