Matt Barkley had the option to enter the NFL Draft after his junior season and was projected to be a top 10 pick along with Andrew Luck and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Barkley decided instead to return to the USC Trojans for “unfinished business,” but could still secure the top overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
Barkley’s return saw him as a preseason Heisman favorite and pushed the Trojans to a preseason No. 1 ranking. Things have fallen off a bit for the Trojans, however, as the season has gone on. Barkley suffered some early hiccups which knocked him out of the Heisman race and a couple of slip-ups in Pac 12 play bounced the Trojans out of the national title picture.
But Barkley has still been showing flashes of why he was so highly regarded coming into his senior season. On the year, Barkley ranks among the most proficient quarterbacks in the nation, completing 65-percent of his passes for 2,750 yards with 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions through nine games.
In his last game against the Oregon Ducks, Barkley shined bright (though not bright enough), throwing for 484 yards and five touchdowns, including 75-yard and 76-yard touchdown strikes deep down the field. Throws like those two reinforced Barkley’s reputation as a future NFL-starting quarterback.
And as it stands now, the team in line to pick first overall, the Kansas City Chiefs, just so happen to be in dire need of a new quarterback. Matt Cassel has worn out his welcome at Arrowhead Stadium after being a disappointment since being signed to a big free-agent contract. Brady Quinn, Cassel’s backup, is not any more appealing for the future of the Chiefs, and fans are clamoring for change under center.
Barkley benefits by being the most NFL-ready rated quarterback of the 2013 NFL Draft by virtue of playing in the pro-style offense of Lane Kiffin. Geno Smith has been fantastic and seen his stock rise dramatically, but has hit some rough waters lately and hasn’t proven himself yet to be ready to step in right away.
So while Chiefs fans hope they aren’t on the clock once the 2012 season comes to an end, they can take some solace in the fact that they’ll be in a position to address any number of their pressing needs from the entire pool of available college football players.
If they decide to draft a new quarterback, expect Matt Barkley to come off the board as the No. 1 pick of the 2013 draft.