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Barkley Could Be First RB Drafted No. 1 Overall by the NFL Since Ki-Jana Carter

by on January 01, 2018 6:00 PM

The last time a college running back was the overall No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft was 23 years ago.

His name? Ki-Jana Carter.

Carter ran for 1,539 yards — a 7.8-yard average — and scored 23 TDs for 12-0 Penn State in 1994. He was picked No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995.

Now — 14 quarterbacks, four defensive ends, three offensive tackles and one wide receiver later (click here for the full list) — No. 26 could be the next No. 1 RB.

Saquon Barkley will certainly be the first Nittany Lion selected in the first round of the draft since Jared Odrick in 2010.

And he could be No. 1 overall.

Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN has Barkley as the No. 1 pick in the next NFL Draft, to be held April 26-28, 2018, at Jerry Jones' AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Todd McShay of ESPN has Barkley at No. 2. With a boatload of top-flight quarterbacks likely also available — such as Josh Rosen of UCLA, Lamar Jackson of Louisville, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma and Sam Darnold of USC — Barkley may not be the overall No. 1 pick.

Still, there's a chance he could join fellow Carter and defensive end Courtney Brown (1980, Cleveland Browns) as Penn State's only No. 1 overall picks in the NFL Draft, dating back to its inception in 1940. Overall, Penn State has had 36 first-round picks in the draft.

For the record: In three seasons, Barkley finished as Penn State's No. 2 career rusher, with 671 carries for 3,843 yards, 89 yards behind all-time leader Evan Royster, and had 102 receptions for 1,195 yards. He scored 53 touchdowns, including two on kickoff returns, and also threw a TD pass.


Here is the NFL draft order for 2018, released Monday morning by the NFL, for positions 1 through 12:

1.) Cleveland; 2.) New York Giants; 3.) Indianapolis; 4.) Cleveland — from Houston; 5.) Denver; 6.) New York Jets; 7.) Tampa Bay; 8) Chicago; 9.) San Francisco OR Oakland; 10.) San Francisco or Oakland; 11.) Miami; 12.) Cincinnati.


Three other Nittany Lion running back greats were nearly overall No. 1 selections in the NFL Draft.

Blair Thomas was the top pick of the New York Jets and No. 2 overall in 1990. Curt Warner was the first pick of the Seattle Seahawks and No. 3 overall in the 1983 draft. And Curtis Enis was the top pick of the Chicago Bears and No. 5 overall in the 1998 draft. Like Barkley, both Carter and Enis entered the draft with one year of college eligibility remaining.

Injuries plagued the professional careers of Warner, Carter, Thomas and Enis. Warner fared the best after getting injured. After a rookie NFL season where he led the AFC in rushing yards (1,449) in 1983, Warner tore his ACL in the 1984 season opener. But he came back to rush for 985 yards or more four times, earning All-Pro, Pro Bowl and Offensive Player of the Year honors post-injury.

In the NFL, Warner finished with 1,698 carries for 6,844 yards and 56 rushing touchdowns. Thomas carried 533 times for 2,236, with 41 TDs; Enis had 456 carries for 1,497 yards and four TDs; and Carter had 319 carries for 1,144 yards and 20 TDs.

Penn State's most prolific rusher in the NFL, by far, was Franco Harris. Harris was selected in the first round with the 13th pick overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1972 draft. He had 2,949 carries for 12,120 yards (14th in NFL history) and 91 TDs. Harris also had 307 catches — including one Immaculate Reception (watch it here) — for 2,287 additional yards and nine touchdowns.


Over the past 14 years (2004-2017), Penn State has had only four players drafted in the first round of the draft — Odrick, Tamba Hali, Aaron Maybin and Levi Brown. In the 11 years before that (1993-2003), Penn State had 13 players picked in the first round.

In the history of the NFL Draft, 10 Penn State running backs have been picked in the first round, more than any other position — including linebacker (4). Defensive line (8) and offensive line (6) rank next for PSU first-round selections.

Linebacker U still reigns in total draft numbers. All-time, more Nittany Lion linebackers have been selected in the NFL Draft — 67 in all — than any other position. Running backs are No. 2, at 33, followed by offensive tackles (32), guards (32), defensive backs (29), wide receivers (23) and defensive tackles (21).

Here's the complete breakdown:


Lenny Moore, 1st round/9th pick, Baltimore Colts, 1956; Franco Harris, 1st round/13th pick, Pittsburgh Steelers, 1972; John Cappelletti, 1st round/11th pick, Los Angeles Rams, 1974; Booker Moore, 1st round/28th pick, Buffalo Bills, 1981; Curt Warner, 1st round/3rd pick, Seattle Seahawks, 1983; D.J. Dozier, 1st round/14th pick, Minnesota Vikings, 1987; Blair Thomas, 1st round/2nd pick, New York Jets, 1990; Ki-Jana Carter, 1st round/1st pick, Cincinnati Bengals, 1995; Curtis Enis, 1st round/5th pick, Chicago Bears, 1998; Larry Johnson, 1st round/27th pick, Kansas City Chiefs, 2003.


Mike Reid, DT, 1st round/7th pick, Cincinnati Bengals, 1970; Bruce Clark, DT, 1st round/4th pick, Green Bay Packers, 1980; Courtney Brown, DE, 1st round/1st pick, Cleveland Browns, 2000; Jimmy Kennedy, DT, 1st round/12th pick, St. Louis Rams, 2003; Michael Haynes, DE, 1st round/14th pick, Chicago Bears, 2003; Tamba Hali, DE, 1st round/20th pick, Kansas City Chiefs, 2006; Aaron Maybin, DE, 1st round/11th pick, Buffalo Bills; Jared Odrick, DE, 1st round/28th pick, Miami Dolphins.


Keith Dorney, OT, 1st round/10th pick, Detroit Lions, 1979; Mike Munchak, OG, 1st round/8th pick, Houston Oilers, 1982; Sean Farrell, OG, 1st round/17th pick, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1982; Jeff Hartings, OG, 1st round/23rd pick, Detroit Lions, 1996; Andre Johnson, OT, 1st round/30th pick, Washington Redskins, 1996; Levi Brown, OT, 1st round/5th pick, Arizona Cardinals, 2007.


Dave Robinson, 1st round/14th pick, Green Bay Packers, 1963; Ed O'Neil, 1st round/8th pick, Detroit Lions, 1974; Shane Conlan, 1st round/8th pick, Buffalo Bills, 1987; LaVar Arrington, 1st round/2nd pick, Washington Redskins, 2000.


Richie Lucas, 1st round/4th pick, Washington Redskins, 1960; Todd Blackledge, 1st round/7th pick, Kansas City Chiefs, 1983; Kerry Collins, 1st round/5th pick, Carolina Panthers, 1995.


Kenny Jackson, 1st round/4th pick, Philadelphia Eagles, 1984; O.J. McDuffie, 1st round/25th pick, Miami Dolphins, 1993; Bryant Johnson, 1st round/17th pick, Arizona Cardinals, 2003.


Ted Kwalick, 1st round/7th pick, San Francisco 49ers, 1969; Kyle Brady, 1st round/9th pick, New York Jets, 1995.

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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