Monday, 10 September 2012

Matt Barkley, QB, USC 

2013 NFL Prospect,  Senior, 6-2/230lb

 I don't, right now, see Matt Barkley as a worthy first overall pick in April. He's being touted as the top QB as it stands, but in truth this is because none of the more physically talented guys have yet distinguished themselves. It's hard to tell who yet, but at least one of Wilson, Smith, Jones, Thomas and Bray is going to start jumping off the screen as the season goes on. Once he does, it will be relatively straightforward for him to leapfrog the more physically limited Barkley in the eyes of scouts at the top level.

My problem with Barkley as it stands is very harsh. He has not been put in a position to fail, and succeeded nonetheless. He has succeeded, but in the face of overwhelming odds in his favour. He has consistently good protection, a solid running game, and the best wideout combo in all of College football. He has effective hot reads and checkdowns, and does not need to consistently extend plays or make impossible throws to move the chains. Until he has more adversity to overcome, I'm not comfortable predicting success in the NFL for the USC Quarterback. However, he has won some big games and put up big numbers in high pressure situations, so it's far from impossible.

Nevertheless, I don't see him as a transformative player that can take a failing franchise by the scruff of the neck. If he lands with a good franchise, who will surround him with talent and develop him with patience, his ceiling is very high. There is nothing I have seen that rules out a Drew Brees type career. But a Drew Brees type career involves a number of rocky years with an up and down franchise before having enormous success when paired with a great line, running game, and game changing talent at the receiver position.

The best fits for Matt as I see him now are definitely Buffalo and Kansas City, both of which have good lines and explosive players at the skill positions, but will potentially be in the market for new Quarterbacks. His intelligence and quick release make him a perfect fit for Chan Gailey's scheme with the Bills, but I suspect that if Buffalo are drafting high and moving on from Fitzmagic, they've probably moved on from Gailey aswell. Kansas would protect him with their talented line, and ask little of him beyond putting the ball in the hands of talented playmakers like Charles, Bowe and McCluster. The infuriating inconsistency of Matt Cassel has hamstrung the Chiefs for years, and if Cassel doesn't redeem himself in 2012 it will be hard to resist trading up for a falling Barkley.

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