TEMPE, Ariz. -- Saquon Barkley can do it all.
He can run, catch and return kicks. That combination has made him a candidate to be the No. 1 pick in next month’s NFL draft. It has also drawn comparisons to one of the best running backs in the NFL: David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals.
The two are similar in nearly every way.
It starts with comparing measurables from Barkley’s combine showing last week to Johnson’s in 2015.
At 6-foot-1, Johnson is an inch taller than Barkley, but Barkley weighed in at 233 pounds, nine more than Johnson. Barkley’s arm was one-eighth of an inch longer than Johnson’s, while Johnson’s hand was one-eighth of an inch bigger than Barkley’s.
Barkley ran his 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. Johnson ran his in 4.50.
Barkley did 29 reps in the bench press. Johnson did 25.
Johnson’s vertical leap was half an inch higher than Barkley’s.
Johnson went in the third round to the Cardinals. Barkley is expected to be a top-five pick, possibly even No. 1.
But here’s the difference between the two: Barkley is coming out of a blue-blood program at Penn State. Johnson went to Northern Iowa, an FCS program.
Comparing their stats from their final college seasons, while they came against vastly different levels of competition, shows even more similarities between Barkley and Johnson.
Johnson ran for 1,553 yards and 17 touchdowns on 287 carries as a senior. Barkley ran for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns on 217 carries as a junior in his final season with the Nittany Lions.
Both were also key cogs in their respective teams' passing games. Johnson caught 38 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns. Barkley caught 54 passes for 632 yards and three touchdowns.
And both made a big impact on special teams.
Johnson returned 12 kicks for 438 yards and a touchdown, while Barkley returned 15 kicks for 426 yards and two scores.
After getting passed over for more than two and a half rounds, Johnson needed one season before he became a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 2016, leading the NFL in all-purpose yards.
That's about where the expectations are for Barkley; if he reaches those heights, the comparisons to Johnson are sure to continue.