GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Saquon Barkley is the most talented prospect in the country.
I left the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night more convinced of that than ever, having just watched the Penn State RB slice through a tough and talented Washington defense for 175 total yards and 2 touchdowns.
He's the best RB prospect I've seen since Adrian Peterson. Peterson's power and violence is on another level, but Barkley's combination of lateral quickness, top speed and elusiveness is off the charts.
Here are the traits that stood out to me when I scouted him Saturday.
Size: Barkley's size reminds me of Leonard Fournette. He's not as tall as Fournette, but he's built like the Jaguars' star rookie. Barkley's a physical freak. Seeing him on the field before warmups reminded me of how big he is. He's listed at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, but you don't fully appreciate his size when you're watching him at home.
Speed: Game speed is different than timed speed, although Barkley has plenty of both. The PSU RB's game speed is reminiscent of Todd Gurley's.
Pass-catching ability: Barkley has a chance to be like Le'Veon Bell in the passing game in terms of his elusiveness in space with the ball after the catch. Barkley is very shifty for a big back.
Character: One of the non-physical aspects of Barkley's game that might put him at another level is his character. Penn State coach James Franklin raved about Barkley when he visited the Move The Sticks Podcast earlier this season. I was a little bit surprised Barkley played from start to finish on Saturday. After his 92-yard TD run in the second quarter, I thought he might be done for the day, but he stayed in the game. That showed a measure of his competitiveness.
Now, if you're nit-picking, and scouts will nit-pick, vision and pass protection are the two areas Barkley can improve in, but there's so much to like about this player.
I look at how Fournette helped provide an identity for a team and helped turn the Jaguars from a last-place team to a first-place team. I think Barkley can be the centerpiece of an NFL offense and make a similar impact on a pro club, whether he enters the league in 2018 or 2019 -- he didn't make any announcement about his plans for 2018 after the game Saturday.
When it's all said and done, we can compare him to a lot of different players, but he's a pretty unique talent. I don't like to use the "can't-miss" label, but Barkley seems about as safe as a prospect as you'll find.