USC Football: Strong Sun Bowl from Matt Barkley Will Make Him First-Round Pick

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIDecember 17, 2012

Dec. 4, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley speaks at the NFF annual awards press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria as part of the 2012 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Barkley certainly has his doubters, but a strong performance in the Sun Bowl will get the attention of general managers looking for a franchise quarterback.

If Barkley rebounds from his shoulder injury and lights up Georgia Tech, he will regain some of the buzz that made him the top prospect in the country before the season began. It has been a monumental fall for Barkley since last season.

He would have almost certainly been a top-five pick in the 2012 NFL draft had he come out, but he chose to return to school to chase a national championship.

After the USC Trojans stumbled to a disappointing 7-5 season, the team's chances of playing for a national championship and Barkley's status as a potential No. 1 overall pick went out the window. After he suffered a shoulder injury in the team's November 17 loss to UCLA, his draft stock seemed to hit an all-time low.

According to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr., Barkley would be lucky to hear his name called in the first 20 picks of the 2013 NFL draft.

If he can show he's healthy against the Yellow Jackets and capable of bouncing back from a season full of adversity, the quarterback-starved NFL will pull the trigger on him in the middle of the first round.

There are too many Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs-like situations in the NFL. Barkley is only 6'2" with moderate arm strength, but he has produced stellar numbers with exceptional weapons in a pro-style offense at USC.

That may not generate an All-Pro NFL quarterback, but one more great college performance will be enough to get him drafted. We can't forget Barkley has plus-intangibles. As a quarterback hopeful, that will be attractive.

Many of the drawbacks people mention about Barkley were once said about Drew Brees. He has certainly found a way to overcome the proposed physical limitations.

Maybe Barkley turns out to be nothing more than Chad Pennington—another high intangible guy with limited physical skills—but even he went 18th overall back in 2000.

Expect Barkley to be drafted in the first 32 as well.


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