Running backs are coveted once more and Saquon Barkley’s stock is soaring

The recent success of Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette have made it fashionable once more for an NFL team to use a lofty draft pick on a running back. Saquon Barkley can be thankful for that.

With the decision-makers for NFL teams gathered in Indianapolis for the scouting combine, the dynamic tailback from Penn State is receiving the deference reserved for those prized players expected to be among the first few players drafted. Reporters crowded around him for his combine-week news conference Thursday. With his name in the conversations of teams with top-five selections, his every move is scrutinized particularly closely, as when he did an impressive 29 reps during Thursday’s bench press.

Remember when there was talk in and around the NFL a few years ago about running back being a devalued position in a pass-happy league? Not any more, at least when it comes to the NFL draft.

“Everyone says you can get running backs later in the draft, which you can,” San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You can also get them early in the draft. I think if Le’Veon Bell came out this year, I’m sure he’d be a top-five pick. And he went in the second round. I think David Johnson would be the same. People always want to find those

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