USC Trojans four-year starter Matt Barkley is regarded by many to be the safest quarterback pick in the 2013 NFL draft class. His mechanics, intelligence, success in a pro-style offense and lauded work-ethic put him near the top of the list of quarterback prospects, but arm-strength questions make it hard to pin down which round he might land in.
This week, Barkley has seen his name increasingly tied to a couple franchises that haven’t possessed a franchise quarterback — that panned out in the long run — since the 1990s, as the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns seem like candidates for the “safe” option as much as anyone. Long gone are Jim Kelly and Bernie Kosar, but in comes Barkley for a visit this week.
“Heading off to Cleveland and Buffalo this morning for team visits,” Barkley tweeted Monday.
The Bills hold the eighth, 41st and 71st overall picks while the Browns hold the sixth and 68th picks as their second rounder went into acquiring wide receiver Josh Gordon in last year’s supplemental draft. The mockisphere has him all over the place, with some finding him worthy of a top-10 selection while other respected draftniks are giving him a third-round grade. Sports on Earth’s Mike Tanier aggregated many reputable mock drafts in creating “The Consensus NFL Mock Draft”, which had Barkley going No. 8 overall to the Bills with a 25 percent match, with Geno Smith (25 percent) and Ryan Nassib (13 percent) close behind.
The other elephant in the room, besides arm-strength, is Barkley’s come-down senior year after entering 2012 a Heisman frontrunner before fading from the pack. Like every prospect in the quarterback class, Barkley comes with some major blemishes on the resume. But for team’s like Buffalo and Cleveland, who ranked 26th and 29th respectively last season in Pro Football Focus pass grading, adding young talent at the quarterback spot presents an intriguing option to say the least.