Matt Barkley has been one of the most discussed college quarterbacks the last four years. Part of this is due to playing at star-studded USC, but also because of his real potential to succeed in the NFL.
Many experts thought Barkley was going to enter the NFL Draft last year, but he chose to return to Southern Cal for his senior season in hopes of contending for a national championship.
Not only did the Trojans struggle last season, but Barkley suffered a separated shoulder injury ending his year prematurely.
Before deciding not to enter the 2012 draft, Barkley was considered one of the top quarterback prospects, along with consensus No. 1 pick Andrew Luck. Barkley had an incredible 2011 season, passing for more than 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns.
The USC quarterback didn’t have an awful 2012, but the way the season ended and how his team performed left a bad taste with NFL teams.
Barkley also wasn’t able to prove his doubters wrong at this year’s scouting combine, where he didn’t participate in any of the physical activities. This has left his draft status truly unknown, ranging from anywhere in the first round and beyond.
He did, however, recently throw passes at his USC pro day, where according to scouts he looked “impressive.” This still hasn’t elevated Barkley’s stock into being an automatic first-day selection. NFL.com’s draft analyst Josh Norris has Barkley going as the first pick in the second round to Jacksonville in his latest mock draft.
With the way quarterbacks are usually over-drafted in the opening rounds, I’m a little surprised to see where Barkley is projected. The 2013 class of quarterbacks has much less depth than a year ago, and I think that will result in some of them being drafted earlier than expected.
Barkley showed over his long career at USC that he is a great leader that can put up impressive statistics. He always had his team contending with the top-ranked teams, although he never was too successful in critical games.
Matt Barkley has both the size and intelligence to be a quality quarterback in the NFL. If he finds the right fit at the next level, he’s capable of becoming a Pro Bowl type of player. However, many teams are skeptical about his injury, which could potentially affect his future.
Determining if Barkley is a boom or bust won't happen for several years to come. However, the way young quarterbacks have been able to come into the league and be productive in their first year gives me confidence in Barkley. He has the right attitude quarterbacks must have in order to be elite.