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NFL Draft 2012: A Look at Where Matt Barkley Would Have Ranked

Brian KleinCorrespondent IIJanuary 10, 2017

NFL Draft 2012: A Look at Where Matt Barkley Would Have Ranked

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    Matt Barkley made headlines recently when he told Dan Patrick on The Dan Patrick Show he believes he would have been drafted before Robert Griffin III, if he would have declared for the 2012 NFL draft. 

    “I had confidence that I was going to go high, it wasn’t really a question of that as to why I came back…I think it was a sure bet that Andrew (Luck) was going to go No. 1.”

    Patrick then asked if Barkley thought he would have gone as the second quarterback instead of RG3, and Barkley answered, “I had confidence in that—I think I could have been.”

    The Barkley comment leads us to more interesting questions about what influence he might have had on the 2012 draft had he been in the mix.

    Would the Washington Redskins not feel the need to mortgage their future to trade up to the second overall pick with the St. Louis Rams? 

    Maybe the trading hot spot would then have been the third overall pick, where teams wanting a QB could have landed either RG3 or Barkley. 

    Teams that showed interest in the USC signal-caller heading into the 2012 draft were the Washington Redskins, the Minnesota Vikings, the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins.  The Redskins, the Browns and the Dolphins all drafted other quarterbacks in the first round this year, so they seem to no longer be interested in the services of Barkley in 2013.  The Vikings are still likely in the mix, though, if 2011 first-round selection Christian Ponder continues to struggle in the NFL. 

    Which leads us to the big question: Where would Matt Barkley have gone if he had joined the 2012 draft class?

Matt Barkley

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    Before we look at where Matt Barkley could have gone in the 2012 NFL draft, we must look at who Matt Barkley, the quarterback, is.

    Barkley is a 6’1’’, 218-pound (courtesy of CBS Sports) three-year starting quarterback for the University of Southern California Trojans. 

    Barkley has 755 career completions on 1,175 career attempts.  His 64.3 career completion percentage has totaled him 9,054 passing yards, 80 passing touchdowns and 33 career interceptions. 

    Those totals give Barkley a college quarterback rating of 145.8. 

    Barkley has already finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2011.  He ranks 11th in the Pac-12 in career passing yards, fourth in Pac-12 history in passing efficiency rating, fourth in the Pac-12 in career completion percentage and fifth in Pac-12 history in touchdown passes.

    NFL Draft Scout had this to say about Barkley heading into the 2012 NFL draft:

    “Barkley's strengths are his work ethic, leadership, and commitment to the game.  He displays a calm demeanor on the field, very polished technique, and does a great job reading through his progressions. 

    Although his arm strength is a slight concern.  At the next level, he'll need to improve his ability to drive the ball and put some velocity on medium routes. 

    Athletically average, he is not particularly mobile but can make up for that by remaining steady in the pocket. 

    Not afraid to hang tough and let the play develop.  Accuracy is above average and can put a nice touch on short passes.  Sometimes does not put enough air on deep passes, leaving wide receivers unable to make late adjustments to the ball.”

    But former Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah had this to say about Barkley after watching him at the Manning Passing Academy:

    “I've seen Matt play live several times during his college career, and there was one noticeable difference after watching him this week: His arm has gotten much stronger.  He was able to drive the ball with more authority than he has in the past three years.”

Number 1 Pick, Indianapolis Colts

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    University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian made headlines back in November when he declared, “If I'm an NFL head coach right now, I'd pick Matt Barkley ahead of Andrew Luck.” (via espn.com)

    Well coach Sarkisian may be in the vast minority with that belief.  As he conceded in the aforementioned interview with Dan Patrick, Barkley believed the Indianapolis Colts had their minds made up well before he made his final decision.

    Barkley was right—Andrew Luck was the consensus number one overall prospect heading into the 2012 NFL draft. Luck was being compared to John Elway coming out of Stanford. 

    He showed surprising mobility, athleticism, intelligence and accuracy for the quarterback position.  At 6’4’’, 235 pounds, Luck has no question marks surrounding his physical makeup either, showcasing the prototypical build and size for an NFL quarterback. 

    With a career 67 percent completion percentage and a 162.8 college quarterback rating, Luck’s 82 passing touchdowns and 22 career interceptions surpassed even the statistics Barkley would have brought to the table.

    Luck was the number-one prospect heading into the draft, with or without Matt Barkley.

Number 2 Pick, Washington Redskins via St. Louis Rams

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    Under the assumption that the Washington Redskins would have still traded up to number two to draft their franchise quarterback, which prospect would have fit Mike Shanahan’s system better? 

    Robert Griffin III is the higher-risk, higher-reward pick with his ability to both run and pass. 

    Matt Barkley on the other hand, is a more traditional NFL passer who would immediately fit into any West Coast scheme. 

    Barkley has already been tutored at USC to roll out and throw on the run. 

    But I still give the slight edge to RG3 because of his ability to fit into Shanahan’s system with his athleticism and potential.

    I am not one to go overboard on 40-yard dash times—especially for the quarterback position.  But when a decision is being made between two closely contested quarterback prospects, athleticism will prevail. 

    RG3 ran a 4.41 at the combine.  Making him only the second quarterback in the history of the combine to run the 40-yard dash under 4.4 seconds.  (Only Michael Vick beat Griffin’s time with a performance of 4.33 seconds. Cam Newton was clocked at 4.59 seconds.)

    Barkley has had his 40-yard dash timed at 4.74 seconds (.15 seconds slower than Andrew Luck). 

    In addition, Griffin’s passing numbers surpass the ones already achieved by Barkley.  RG3 has a college career completion percentage of 67.1 percent with a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 78-17. 

    Those numbers gave RG3 quarterback rating of 158.9 for his college career (13.1 points higher than Barkley’s).

    At 6’2’’, 223 pounds, Griffin provides the Redskins with a more athletic quarterback prospect—and one who has proven to be a more productive player at the collegiate level.

Number 3 Pick, Cleveland Browns via Minnesota Vikings

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    A second interesting Matt Barkley scenario would have arisen with the third overall pick. 

    The Cleveland Browns traded up to number three and drafted Alabama's Trent Richardson.  But the NFL is a quarterback-driven league and—as good of a prospect as Richardson is—I believe the Browns would have drafted Barkley ahead of the running back.

    I do not see how a Cleveland franchise starving for a West Coast quarterback passes on the perfect answer to all of those problems. 

    There is no refuting that Barkley has his limitations:  He is tad undersized and has a tendency to underthrow receivers on crossing routes. 

    But the Browns proved by selecting Brandon Weeden with the 22nd selection that they were desperate for a new quarterback this offseason. 

    Barkley would come to Cleveland and be hailed as the savior of the franchise. 

    Plus, with Barkley now in the fold, Cleveland can use its 22nd pick on a running back.  Both Doug Martin of Boise State (selected 31st by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and David Wilson of Virginia Tech (selected 32nd by the New York Giants) would have been available to the Browns at 22. 

    I agree with the choice of Trent Richardson (without Barkley's availablity), but addressing your quarterback needs at number three would have been the correct way to go in today's NFL.

    A younger Barkley (21 years old vs. the 28-year-old Weeden), would allow the Browns to develop a young QB into a long-term, sustainable answer at the position.

    Having Barkley and one of the previously mentioned running backs in Cleveland would have been a safer first round than the Browns' real-life selections of Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden.

Conclusion

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    Matt Barkley may believe that teams would have considered him the second-best quarterback in the class of 2012, but wisely returned to USC for one last season; the youngster realized that, realistically, he could have been the third quarterback selected in the 2012 draft.

    At either pick three or four, I do not see the Browns passing on the young signal-caller, meaning Barkley was a viable top-four selection if he would have chosen to officially declare for the 2012 NFL draft.

    But Barkley was not willing to take the risk, and most observers believe that a final season at USC will pay off for him.

    As Tony Pauline of SI.com put it:

    "Barkley graded as a top-eight pick had he entered the 2012 draft.  He's an accurate passer with the skills necessary to lead a West Coast offense at the next level.  Depending on who owns the first pick next April, Barkley could easily be the first overall selection in 2013."

    Ultimately, Barkley was not willing to put money where his mouth is.  That decision may make Barkley millions more if his final season at USC is as successful as most expect.

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