According to Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman, an assistant coach said, "I would punch myself in the nuts many, many, many times to be able to draft him" when discussing Barkley, who turned in an impressive showing during the NFL Scouting Combine.
Unless that assistant coach is on the Cleveland Browns staff, he may be disappointed come draft day.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, "Barkley is firmly in the mix at No. 1 for the Browns." If he's picked in that spot, he'd be the first running back taken with the top selection since fellow Nittany Lions star Ki-Jana Carter went to the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995.
The Browns also own the No. 4 pick and could address the quarterback position then if they draft Barkley No. 1.
"That'd be awesome," Barkley said Thursday of the possibility of going to Cleveland at No. 1, per Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports. "Something bigger than you."
Barkley looked the part of a top pick at the combine. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com called him one of the winners of the event, noting he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds, bench-pressed 29 reps and tallied a vertical leap of 41 inches. Brooks even wrote Barkley "looked like a wide receiver out there in a running back's body" during pass-catching drills.
It's not a surprise Barkley turned heads considering the versatility he displayed at Penn State. He ran for 1,271 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2017, his third straight season with more than 1,000 yards on the ground, and tallied 54 catches for 632 yards and three touchdowns. He even reached the end zone on two of his 15 kick returns and threw for a touchdown.
Cleveland—a mere 4-44 over the last three seasons, including 0-16 in 2017—could use players like that across the board.
It's no wonder at least one assistant coach is willing to go to extreme measures to draft Barkley.