KISSIMMEE, FL — Quite possibly the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL draft, Saquon Barkley isn’t focused on being the first pick as much as he is on being ready to contribute for whatever team selects him.
Barkley had three standout seasons at Penn State, running for over 1,100 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2017 during his final season in college. Powerfully built, Barkley has tremendous speed and is also an asset catching the ball out of the backfield. In recent weeks, several prominent mock drafts have Barkley going No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Browns.
Twice in four mock drafts so far, Metro has Barkley being taken second overall by the New York Giants.
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Were he to go with the first selection, Barkley would be the first running back taken first overall since 1995. Coincidentally, that was another Penn State running back as Ki-Jana Carter was taken No. 1 by the Cincinnati Bengals.
He was asked by Metro if he wants to be the first player taken in the draft.
“Right now I’m just focused on grinding,” Barkley told Metro last week following a workout at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.
“But of course, it is 2018 and I am active on social media. You see the stuff you’re tagged in, you see the stuff tweeted at you. You have to be blind to it. Obviously, you see it — you can’t let it get to your ego, can’t let it go to your head. The only thing that matters is you going out there and working; if you change your work ethic and stop doing the stuff that got you here, you’re going to decline as a player and that is something you don’t want to do. So I want to focus on grinding and working at it so I can dominate the combine.”
“Personally, you can ask any of my teammates, my friends and family — you can ask Tom Shaw — where I get drafted it doesn’t matter to me. If it’s first pick, No. 20, undrafted, Day 2 or Day 3. Just to be picked up by a team and be fortunate enough, I just want to work hard.”
Last week, Barkley showed well in an open-workout at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, where he is training for the NFL Draft. At the facility, he is working alongside the aforementioned Shaw, one of the nation’s preeminent preparers of NFL Draft talent.
Shaw has worked with players such as quarterback Jameis Winston and running backs Chris Johnson and Derrick Henry at Disney’s Wide World of Sports prior to their NFL Draft selection.
Last week, Barkley also signed an endorsement deal with Nike.
“More about comfortability, I’ve been in Nike my whole life,” Barkley said. “You see the Nike athletes like Michael Jordan and LeBron James. That’s exciting.”