It’s that time of year again folks. The players have voted and the NFL top 100 players of 2020 list are nearing completion with only spots 10-1 remaining. As with every list, there are questionable takes. My pick for this year: Saquon Barkley at 31. Missing games due to injuries ranked him further down the list after being ranked 16th on the top 100 players for the 2019 list.
Barkley being the only Giants listed isn’t all that surprising considering the team has lacked in star power ever since the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. in March of 2018. So is the verdict fair? Are there really 30 players in the NFL right now that should be ranked higher than Barkley?
Where are other running backs ranked?
2019 saw a breakout year for multiple backs around the league. For example, Cleveland’s Nick Chubb emerged as a force to be reckoned with over 1,700 yards from scrimmage averaging 93.4 YPG, and was ranked at 36. Green Bay’s Aaron Jones was ranked 33rd after not being ranked last year, having a monster year for the Packers with 1,558 yards from scrimmage and held a tie for total touchdowns in the league with 19. Other backs like Chris Carson and Dalvin Cook also landed spots in the top 100 after bounce-back years for Seattle and Minnesota respectively.
Does this list mean that these backs are more skilled than Barkley?
The simple answer is no, at least not necessarily. Let’s just take a look objectively. In my completely unbiased opinion, there are only four running backs in the NFL that one can make a legitimate argument for best in the league. Ezekiel Elliott, Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, and Saquon Barkley. Just simply based on production & skillset, these four are in a tier of their own. Not a slight to any of these players because they all have Hall of Fame potential. McCaffrey is already breaking records, Zeke has garnered two rushing titles in only four years in the league, and Henry was the driving force behind that Titans magical playoff run last year. Henry and McCaffrey will both make the top 10, and Elliott was ranked 24th. But Barkley is just different.
Players who are 5-11′ 233 pounds aren’t supposed to be able to move like that. The quickness, the lateral burst, the power, the toughness, the grit. You name it and Barkley has it. A leader on and off the field, Saquon Barkley is something the Giants haven’t had in a long time.
He separates himself from just being a dominant running back. Forget the fact that he was the highest-graded running back prospect coming out of college since Adrian Peterson, forget that in his first two seasons he’s already amassed over 2,300 scrimmage yards and 17 touchdowns, forget that he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year, forget all of that. Saquon Barkley is a generational talent, a leader in the locker room, and has been a bright spot and an immediate impact player in an otherwise depleted franchise since he was drafted. Injuries or no injuries, Barkley is at the very least, a top 20 player in the NFL.