Detroit Lions: Saquon Barkley/Barry Sanders comparison is a mistake
Measurables and running style
Are the two players a similar size and build, is that where all this talk is coming from? Do they play with the same style?
Barkley is by no means a power running back, but looking at his build, it seems like he should be, at 6-0 and 230 pounds. These are very similar dimensions to some of the top “power” backs in the NFL, both currently and throughout history. At 230 pounds, Barkley is bigger than Adrian Peterson, LeVeon Bell, and “Beast Mode” Lynch.
Bo Jackson (6-1, 230), Herschel Walker (6-1, 225), and Earl Campbell (5-11, 232) physically resemble Barkley much closer than the 5-8, 200 pound Sanders. So why is it Barry that they’re comparing him too? It must be the way he runs then, right?
I guess everyone sees things a little differently, but comparing highlights of the two players, I really don’t see much similarity. I agree that both backs are compact, shifty, elusive, and have breakaway speed, but with very different styles.
Barkley seems to waste very little motion when he runs. It looks fluid, decisive, and easy. There are plenty of running backs out there with breakaway speed and crisp jump cuts; Sanders was an entirely different breed stylistically.
Barry’s frenetic style left him flailing, shaking, and juking just about every body part, moving wildly in all directions of the compass. Watching him dance in the backfield, It was frustrating just how often he’d be tackled for a loss, but it was a) breathtaking, and b) almost impossible to duplicate. He pumped his legs so viciously in the open field, it sometimes looked like his hips were about to pop out of their sockets at any second.
Watching Barkley’s highlights, his running style looks like a more compact and muscular LeSean McCoy to my eyes. That’s a favorable comparison in its own right, but “the next Barry Sanders” has a little different ring to it than “the next LeSean McCoy”.
Saquon Barkley doesn’t have anywhere near the type of numbers that Barry Sanders had coming out of college. At four inches taller and 30 pounds heavier, there are dozens of other running backs with a more similar build. When you watch videos of the two of them, their running styles aren’t exactly mirror images of each other.
Next: Who is the most versatile running back in Lions' history?
Barkley has all the makings of a great NFL running back, but I’m getting weary of all the comparisons to the most exciting player in the Lions’ franchise history. There’s a line from Happy Gilmore where the Professional Golfers Tour commissioner tells Adam Sandler, “this is not hockey, no matter how much you want it to be.”
I’ll say about Saquon Barkley: he is not Barry Sanders, no matter how much the NFL wants him to be.