USC Football: One Sub-Par Game Shouldn't Push Matt Barkley Down Draft Boards

Darin PikeContributor ISeptember 21, 2012

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans throws the ball during their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Matt Barkley has been the presumptive top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft since he announced he would return to the University of Southern California (USC) for his senior year. However, his opening performance in 2012 Pac 12 play has prompted some draft experts to move him down their draft boards.

Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are the focal point of ESPN's NFL draft team. Their opinions get as much press as anyone and their big boards serve as the launching point for amateur mock drafts.

When both of these analysts, who often disagree on talent, make the same move it garners attention.

Barkley struggled against Stanford's pressure last week, posting one his worst performances at USC.

The response was an overreaction from McShay and Kiper, dropping Barkley behind Jarvis Jones, the talented outside linebacker from Georgia.

Video: Matt Barkley falls on draft boards

— ESPN_Pac12blog (@ESPN_Pac12blog) September 20, 2012

It seems a bit premature to be making this change. While Barkley doesn't have some of the physical abilities that Andrew Luck brings to the table, he's the ideal pocket passer many NFL teams covet. 

As McShay discusses in the video above, Barkley isn't quite as big as some teams like and doesn't have elite arm strength. He also isn't going to elude pressure in the pocket like many of the emerging quarterbacks can.

But what Barkley does offer is poise, decision-making and accurate throws. Provided he has an offensive line to protect him he still has all the qualities that had him projected as the runner-up to Andrew Luck in the 2012 draft.

Barkley has a passer rating of 148.0 on the season, down from 2011, but higher than his 2010 mark. He's thrown 10 touchdowns to 3 interceptions and is averaging 7.5 yards per pass.

Those stats aren't nearly as impressive as they were a week ago, but the season is young. 

The apparent decision to override an entire career because of one week seems fickle. Perhaps there were latent issues with Barkley at the next level, but they've been rarely shared.

It seems inevitable that he'll have another great game against Cal and he'll find himself atop draft boards once again. A game or two this season could affect Heisman Trophy voting, but it is very unlikely his draft status will change.