Detroit Lions should sell the farm to draft Saquon Barkley

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Running back Saquon Barkley
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Running back Saquon Barkley /

The Detroit Lions have several team needs heading into 2018. But the biggest is at running back. And the best one in the draft will be Saquon Barkley.

The Detroit Lions embarrassed the hapless Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football this week. And despite the victory, one thing is painfully clear. The Motor City is without a motor. The Lions have no running game.

Whether fans like to hear it or not, former second round selection Ameer Abdullah is not a bell cow running back. His 48 rushing yards on a season-high 21 carries reeked of mediocrity. Although he did get only his second rushing touchdown of the year on Monday night, he also fumbled the ball twice.

The truth is the 5-foot-9, 203 pound Abdullah is likely a better change-of-pace back coming off the bench rather than a feature back. And with third down specialist Theo Riddick already on the Lions’ roster, the NFL’s top receiving threat out of the backfield, why was he even drafted in the first place? It’s a valid question especially when you consider Arizona Cardinals’ stud running back, David Johnson, was taken 32 picks after Abdullah in the same draft class.

So far this season, Abdullah has posted 417 rushing yards on 122 carries in eight games. His average of 3.4 yards per carry ranks him a lowly 42nd among 50 qualified NFL running backs.

Admittedly, Abdullah is not entirely at fault for his poor production. The Lions’ offensive line has been awful at times this season, whether that be due to injuries or inconsistent play. And Detroit’s two major free agent adds this offseason, guard T.J. Lang and tackle Ricky Wagner, have both underwhelmed.

But if this poor Lions’ rushing attack continues to disappoint throughout the season, which I suspect it will, Detroit’s hopes for postseason success may go down the drain with them. If that’s the case, the Lions’ front office must do everything they can to find an absolute playmaker at the running back position. And I believe that player is Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

Depending upon where Detroit lands in the draft, the Lions may have to trade up several spots in the first round to acquire, whom some are projecting as the possible first overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. But I’m all for Detroit selling the farm if it means finding their next Barry Sanders.

Barkley has been described as an once-in-a-generation-type player. According to Sports Illustrated, one NFL executive claims Barkley is better than Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott in every way. And Elliott not only led the NFL in rushing as a rookie last year, but he went number four overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.

"“You can build an offense around [Saquon Barkley],” an unnamed AFC executive told Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. ” … Zeke is solid in all areas. Fournette is a special athlete for the position. This kid? He’s way better than both of them . . . He’s a step above Zeke in all categories, and has much better hands and feet and vision than Fournette does. He’s special. I haven’t seen a better college football player.”"

And here’s the best part Lions’ fans: Detroit doesn’t need to build an offense around Barkley. They need him to complete their offense! The Lions are in desperate need of a running back who can created for himself when his offensive line fails to open up holes in the defense.

Next: The Best 30 Draft Picks in Detroit Lions History

It appears Saquon Barkley can be that player. The Motor City needs a motor to run properly. And the Detroit Lions should do everything they possibly can to get Barkley under their hood next season.