Detroit Lions: Saquon Barkley/Barry Sanders comparison is a mistake
Stats coming out of college
My first look is just at the raw numbers from their college years. Barkley played three years at Penn State, Sanders played three at Oklahoma State. Consider these selected stats:
- Barkley– 2,767 rushing yards, 5.7 yards per carry, 45 total touchdowns, Heisman 4th place
- Sanders– 2,850 rushing yards, 7.6 yards per carry, 44 total touchdowns, Heisman winner
At first glance, this looks like a close enough comparison. Barry slightly gets the edge in yardage, easily wins average carry, while Barkley has one extra touchdown. Here’s the issue: Barry did all of that in ONE YEAR! Since Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas was at OSU at the same time, Barry only had one year to really show out.
Barkley’s stats above are coming both from the 2016 and 2017 seasons, 27 games in all. He was Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year both times. Barry did all of that in a dozen games during his barely believable 1988 Heisman campaign at Oklahoma State. He basically crammed two years worth of conference Player of the Year stats into one mind-boggling season.
The people making this comparison are clearly forgetting just how crazy Barry Sanders was in college.
Granted, Barkley has much better receiving stats than Sanders, which would make Marshall Faulk or Matt Forte a much better comparison point.