The Arizona Cardinals are smarter than they look. Even though the team traded for Carson Palmer earlier this week after releasing Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals will host former USC quarterback Matt Barkley for a workout this weekend. Arizona holds the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and would be wise to take Barkley as their future franchise quarterback because Palmer isn’t their long-term option, at least if they want to succeed anyway.
Palmer might also be a Heisman Trophy winner and former Trojans passer, but he’s just a placeholder and the Cardinals know it; he’s not going to make a contender out of any NFL team. Furthermore, Barkley is the ideal signal-caller for new Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Barkley has superb mechanics and improved his deep ball in each of his four seasons at USC as his completion percentage on throws of 20 yards or more rose from 32.1 to 39.7 from his sophomore to junior seasons and then to 42.3 in his senior campaign. In his final two years at the collegiate level, Barkley threw 24 touchdowns and only two interceptions on passes of that distance. Arians employs a downfield (vertical) passing scheme and not every quarterback is able to run his system to Arians’ liking, but Barkley can.
The new all-time career passing leader in the Pac-12 ran a pro-style offense at USC and has the brains to make his above-average arm look elite on deep passes, especially against man coverage. Needless to say, he and Larry Fitzgerald would become best friends if he was drafted by the Cardinals this year.
Even if Palmer was to beat out Barkley in a training camp battle this fall, Barkley would easily take over the reins as a sophomore and might just put together a nice career in Arizona under Arians, who would undoubtedly draft some help for the young passer in the coming years. If the Cardinals like what they see from Barkley in this workout, they should strongly consider taking him in this year’s draft because every year that passes without a franchise quarterback on their roster is wasted.