The Philadelphia Eagles made a roster move earlier this week when they traded a conditional 2015 seventh round pick to the Carolina Panthers for second year running back Kenjon Barner. Many fans will dismiss this trade from the beginning and it is a distinct possibility that Barner might not make the team. However, as it stands currently with an injury to both Chris Polk and Josh Huff along with the trade of David Fluellen to the Indianapolis Colts, Kenjon Barner fills in as quality depth at multiple spots on the Eagles roster. Provided he can hasten his learning of both the Philadelphia Eagles’ special teams and offense system, he might make head coach Chip Kelly’s decision difficult when the first cuts are made next Wednesday.
Was Kenjon Barner on Eagles’ Radar During Last Year’s Draft?
The University of Oregon connection is not the only reason to believe that the Philadelphia Eagles might have considered selecting Kenjon Barner late in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles official website featured a scouting profile of Barner in March last year prior to the draft. We’ve become accustomed to the Eagles being very tight-lipped about anything and everything draft related, so this theory might be closer to accurate than we might believe. Now a year removed from the 2013 draft, the Eagles find themselves needing additional depth in both the return game as well as at running back. Nothing is guaranteed for a 6th rounder in the NFL, but experience under Chip Kelly at Oregon should expedite Barner’s ability to grasp the playbook.
Kenjon Barner Is Not Too Small
Entering training camp this year for Carolina, Kenjon Barner reportedly gained nearly 14 pounds and is now 195 pounds. A common misnomer against “scat-backs” or change of pace backs in the NFL is that they’re too small to produce on a regular basis. Off-season acquisition Darren Sproles has spent eight seasons proving that notion to be false. While I’m not insinuating that Kenjon Barner is the next Darren Sproles, the two running backs have similarities beyond their size. Both running backs had several question marks entering the NFL and both were used minimally on offense their first season. While Sproles was a primary return man for the San Diego Chargers, it wasn’t until his 4th season in the NFL that he finally amassed over 100 touches on offense. Now in Philadelphia, Kenjon Barner has a tremendous opportunity to learn from two outstanding veterans in LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.
Kenjon Barner Is Good Enough To Make The 53 Man Roster
Chicago Tribune columnist Dan Pompei ranked Barner as the 13th best running back in the 2013 draft class ahead of Seattle Seahawks backup (and fantasy football darling) Christine Michael or St. Louis Rams’ back Zac Stacy. While Stacy has produced in the NFL (albeit with a high volume of carries and low yards per carry) Barner was never given a chance to showcase his talents last season with the Carolina Panthers. After one season in the NFL, it’s nearly impossible to accurately judge a running back’s talent. It’s why running backs like Mikel LeShoure of the Detroit Lions are still in the league despite minimal opportunities in actual games. Young running backs, particularly cheap ones, are always wanted on NFL rosters despite the picture painted by the lack of spending in free agency the past two seasons. Again, nothing is guaranteed for a 6th rounder in the NFL. But Kenjon Barner certainly has the talent to surpass Matthew Tucker on the depth chart. If rookie receiver Josh Huff misses significant time with an AC joint sprain, the Eagles are going to need a competent body in the return game. That’s where Kenjon Barner’s versatility puts him in position to sneak onto the Eagles’ roster.