Would Matt Barkley Have Gone Ahead of Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft?
Sometimes it's better for an athlete to sidestep a question than it is to answer honestly. USC quarterback Matt Barkley demonstrated this on the Dan Patrick show Tuesday when he was asked about his draft position if he had entered the 2012 NFL Draft.
According to Pro Football Talk, Barkley said that while he believed Andrew Luck would have went first in any scenario, he "had confidence" that he would have went No. 2 ahead of Robert Griffin III. This is a claim that is hard to believe even if you watch only one game of each quarterback's career. Let's break it down:
Griffin could have been an Olympic track athlete if he chose that course. In addition to world-class speed, Griffin has outstanding flexibility, fluidity, balance and quickness. Griffin is the most athletically gifted quarterback prospect since Michael Vick.
Barkley is at the very best an average athlete on film, and his measurables could come in below average. He is not particularly quick, fast, agile or strong. His athleticism does not enhance his game in the least bit.
Griffin can uncork a deep ball from any platform and on the move; the ball comes out of his hand hot. Griffin can also put mustard on short and intermediate throws while maintaining accuracy. Overall, RGIII is elite in this area.
Barkley relies mostly on touch passes, although there have been recent reports by Daniel Jeremiah at NFL.com that his arm strength has improved. He should be able to make all of the NFL throws, but like his average-at-best athleticism, Barkley's arm strength is not a plus.
Both quarterbacks came in just under sixty percent as freshmen. Griffin sat out his second year due to a knee injury, but in his third year he completed 67 percent of his passes and an astounding 72.4 percent as a junior.
Barkley improved his accuracy to 62.6 percent as a sophomore and 69.1 percent as a junior. It's not outlandish to think that he could match Griffin's 72.4 percent completion rate this year.
Griffin ran a spread offense that saw him line up almost exclusively in the shotgun. He generally did not get deep into progression and relied on his athleticism and natural play-making ability. Griffin's offensive scheme did not ask him to break down defenses with play calls or methodical attacks via reads at the line of scrimmage.
Barkley took more snaps under center in a game than Griffin did in a season at Baylor. He has demonstrated the ability to call audibles at the line of scrimmage and hang in the pocket long enough to go through progressions and find secondary receivers.
Griffin might be the most mobile quarterback in the NFL from day one. His ability to create outside of the pocket, in addition to being lethal on designed roll-outs and once the play breaks down is a major plus.
Barkley's mobility is average to below average, and while he is good on roll-outs, mobility adds very little to his game. He will rarely escape pressure in the pocket or add much as a scrambling quarterback.
Both quarterbacks are natural leaders that elevate their teammates. Both rose to the occasion on big stages. Both are intelligent and display the mental toughness to handle the grind of being an NFL quarterback.
Griffin was able to bring Baylor into the upper echelon of college football and Barkley has piloted the Trojans well through the loss of their long-time head coach, Pete Carroll.
Barkley and Griffin are both well equipped off the field to become a starting pro quarterback in the NFL.
Barkley is a rare prospect in terms of how he'll be able to assume a leadership role on and off the field and be comfortable in an NFL offense from day one. He is probably a franchise quarterback prospect on these attributes alone. After that, he adds little value with throws, escapes or otherwise inspired plays that few quarterbacks could make.
Even though Griffin hasn't run a pro-style offense, he has shown the intelligence and work ethic to handle the transition without a hitch. Above and beyond that, his athleticism and deep arm strength and accuracy will allow him to ask questions that defenses cannot answer. He is quite possibly the second best quarterback prospect to enter the draft in the last 10 years after Andrew Luck, and the gap is close.