For the first time in 154 days, there is no football to watch on a Sunday. It is a sad admittance for NFL fans like myself, but at least for the next seven months every team is in first place. Even though we are just one week removed from watching the Ravens hoist the Lombardi Trophy, the NFL has become a year round league, meaning all eyes are already on the off season, including free agency, and of course, the NFL Draft in April. The draft process is more than just a three day event in New York City however, as it all gets started with the NFL combine which is just 17 days after the super bowl. The combine again will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this year, and as we get closer to draft day, ProPlayerInsiders will take an in depth look at several future members of the 2013 NFL Draft class. We will start with Oregon running back Kenjon Barner.
Name: Kenjon Barner
What the numbers say: Like the Oregon backs before him, Barner continued the success that guys under Chip Kelly have had in recent years in 2012, as Kenjon ran for 1,767 yards and 21 touchdowns in the fast paced offense. In addition to those rushing stats, Barner also caught 20 passes for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns. Over his career, Barner amassed 5,848 total yards. He is the first Oregon Duck since 1965 who has scored touchdowns rushing, receiving, and from punt and kickoff returns. He set a Ducks team record for kickoff return yardage in 2009. Barner’s most impressive game that many people remember around the country was his video game-esque numbers he put up at USC this past fall. In that wild 62-51 win in SoCal Barner carried the ball an astounding 38 times for a career high 321 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns.
What Barner is saying: Naturally, Barner has been asked about the possibility of reconnecting with his college coach Chip Kelly who is now the headman in Philadelphia. Barner admits that “It’d be real nice” to join his former coach, but “he wants to get drafted by any team willing to sign that contract.” If it is not the Eagles who draft him, one team Barner will sure be happy to join is his hometown team growing up, the defending NFC Champion 49ers. “I’ve been a fan (of the 49ers) since I was a little boy, from my grandmother down.” Said Barner.
Projection: In what is being considered a relatively down draft class for running backs, Barner is expected to be a mid round pick in April. With the combine approaching however, the shifty Barner may have a chance to improve that with a good workout. Right now Barner is being rated between the 3rd and 8th ranked back of this year’s class according to some “experts.”