Sixth Round: 182nd Pick
Very few backs can boast of notching over 2000 yards from scrimmage and 1000 return yards in their senior season. Yet, you'll rarely hear Kenjon Barner mentioned among the top five running back prospects for 2013. Are the analysts missing something, or are there good reasons to think Barner's college production will not equal pro success?
Barner has surprising speed to get to the corner and outrun chasing defenders. His quickness is also very subtle, with quick adjustments on the fly to get yards after contact or elude tacklers. He is a fluid athlete with loose hips and smooth stride that gobbles up yards. Barner is a good receiver out of the backfield and can also provide punch as a kick returner.
Barner runs with little to no urgency. He breaks very few tackles and prefers to take runs outside instead of getting north-south. While he is faster than he appears, he doesn't really have a second gear. His feet will go dead behind the line of scrimmage while he is looking for a hole, and he usually just gets what's there on a running play, nothing more. He's not physically formidable enough to be aneverydown back or quality pass blocker, and seems to shy away from contact.
Barner is 5'11" 192 and runs with less than ideal physicality. His 35.5" vertical and 6.87 three-cone time at the Combine show some innate quickness and explosion, but they rarely show up spectacularly on the field. While he has NFL quality physical tools, Barner doesn't consistently play with the edge necessary to make them matter in the pros.
Barner is a "beat of a different drummer" personality who loves pedicures and country music. He played offense, defense, and special teams early in his career, and worked to get more durable as his time in Oregon went on. Barner finished his degree before his senior season and he is considered a high character prospect.
Barner typically ran out of the shotgun/spread formation in an offense that wore a defense down to nothing with over 50 running plays a game. Most of his success came on outside runs.
Barner is a patient runner, almost to a fault. He takes his time processing defenders, but he is used to having a lot of room to operate. Breaking a run outside seems to be more appealing to Barner than cutting back inside, and he often passes up or misses better paths between the tackles.
Barner is a very good receiver out of the backfield. He's got soft hands and strong ball tracking skills. He adjusts well to the ball in flight to set up run after catch opportunities and should continue to play this role in the NFL. As a pass blocker, he is not very strong and looks like he'll get overwhelming by blitzing pro linebackers.
Between the Tackles
When Barner does run between the tackles, he picks and pokes behind the line until he finds a suitable hole without urgency. He's more of a hop/skip runner behind the line than a "stick your foot in the ground and go" one-cut runner.
Making tacklers miss is not really Barner's game, but he does employ subtle moves to elude tacklers in the open field. Even though he is a smaller back, his production is more a product of the system than his ability to create extra yardage on his own.
Barner is already at a disadvantage because of his size, and his running style doesn't help in the power department. His pad level is high and he doesn't run with conviction, so broken tackles are rare.Barner does have a decent stiff arm and will occasionally carry or shed a tackler in the open field, but for the most part, he is a finesse runner.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Barner looks like a poor man's version of former teammate LaMichael James. In other words, he'll have to be used on plays designed to get him in space and use his speed/outside running style. He won't be an ideal third down back, or first down back for that matter. Barner can contribute on special teams as a return man, but his offensive value is limited.