After this past Saturday’s 10-point loss to the underdog UCLA Bruins, USC’s disappointing 2012 campaign was dealt another crushing blow as its star quarterback left the game with a shoulder injury. Now that his career as a USC Trojan is likely over, Matt Barkley eyes an uncertain future.
With USC one of the leading favorites this preseason and Barkley a highly touted Heisman Trophy candidate, there was a lot of pressure on him. Now, however, Barkley has to put all of his college worries in the past and look ahead toward next April’s draft.
Even before his senior season at USC, there was no doubt in the minds of scouts that Barkley was the frontrunner for best quarterback in the 2013 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, his senior year will do nothing but harm his value at the next level.
Already, scouts have criticized his ability to make plays and questioned if he’s athletic enough to really flourish at the professional tier. Despite his inconsistency, Barkley was considered the consensus pick for best quarterback in most mock drafts.
Barkley also led all quarterbacks this season where touchdowns and interceptions were concerned—36 and 15 (nine of which came in the Trojans’ past four games) respectively. But after the injury to his throwing shoulder, where will Barkley end up draft-wise?
Barkley’s talent and ability are undeniable, but we can only wait and see how he responds in the wake of the difficult season and injured shoulder. As of now, Barkley is still a first round draft pick, but who exactly will seek his talents? Possible suitors include the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs, but Barkley isn’t the only name these teams will be looking at.
West Virginia signal caller Geno Smith has looked impressive in his own right, and if the Barkley injury is cited as a concern, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Smith picked ahead of Barkley in the first round by any of the aforementioned teams in need of a franchise QB.
Considering draft position can mean the difference in millions of dollars, the decision to stay another year in school as it relates to his draft stock may come back to haunt Barkley.
If he recovers from the injury and shows up at the NFL Scouting Combine unshaken by his recent setbacks, it would serve to alleviate a lot of the concerns scouts and NFL GMs have about his ability. However, if for any reason it appears his confidence has waned or the injury severely hampers his ability, scouts will undoubtedly be wary of picking him.
Barkley could still be the first QB selected in the draft, but if his recent play is any indication of what the future holds, Barkley’s NFL prospects do not look encouraging.