Oregon consistently puts the fastest players they can find in the backfield to threaten defenses in the run game, no matter their size. Barner's a bit bigger than San Francisco 49ers 2012 second-round pick LaMichael James and rising sophomore phenom De'Anthony Thomas, but his wiry build and track speed makes him a similar breakaway threat.
Despite the presence of James and Thomas in 2011, Barner started five contests and finished with 939 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for the year. Those numbers eclipsed his rushing totals over the previous two seasons (917 yards, nine touchdowns), which were held down by the Ducks' perennial depth at the position. His contributions on special teams early in his career were notable, though, as he scored on a kickoff return in 2009 (averaging 24.9 yards an attempt that season) and a punt return in 2010 (11.7 average in 2009-2010). In his senior year, as the main back, Barner carried the ball 278 times for 1,767 yards and 21 yards. His most impressive game came against Southern California, when he rushed 38 times for 341 yards and five touchdowns.
Excellent straight-line speed puts defenders in his dust in the open field. Accelerates after cut to burst through holes on stretch plays.. Flashes some balance and strength to spin off and churn through arm tackles to continue upfield. Eludes penetrating defenders in the holes with a quick sidestep, also has the vision to set up safeties and cut around them for big gains. Weapon out of the backfield, can catch passes with his hands inside his frame and over his shoulder and is tough to track down if hit on the run.
Runs high, and as a result, does not play with tremendous balance. Too often seeks to bounce the ball to the outside and will miss running lanes as a result. Lean build, not much strength in the lower body to power through tackles inside. Average upper-body build brings questions about ball security. Runs upright in the hole before contact comes. Rounds off or takes a couple of steps to cut on east-west runs. Hands are inconsistent, will double-catch or body-catch throws in the flat and won't always
Barner put up an extremely impressive statistical season in Chip Kelly's system, making the most of his opportunity to be the lead back. His speed is undeniable, and he can be a weapon catching the ball out of the backfield. However, Barner has numerous concerns, including fumbles, pass protection, and the tendency to try and bounce everything to the outside. In spite of all of this, Barner can still be an extremely dangerous weapon in a running back committee and as a kick returner.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.