Matt Barkley has become one of the hottest names heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. Let’s examine the top five potential landing spots for the 6-2, 227-pound star signal-caller out of Southern California.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Russ Lande—the Director of Scouting for National Football Post—recently revealed a puzzling projection with Matt Barkley going to Jacksonville in the No. 2 spot his latest mock draft.
Though Barkley may be seen by some as a significant reach this early in the draft and new GM David Caldwell just mentioned that the Jaguars are down to two prospects (and it’s highly unlikely that includes Barkley), Lande did hit the nail on the head that this regime “did not choose Blaine Gabbert, so they are willing to pull the plug and start anew.”
So while Sharrif Floyd, Ezekiel Ansah and Dion Jordan are more likely to land in the No. 2 spot, don’t be surprised if the Jags try to trade up to scoop Barkley up at the bottom of the first round or at the top of the second round.
2. Oakland Raiders: There are four ways that the Silver and Black can wind up with the No. 2-rated QB in this draft class. A) Take him with the third overall pick. B) Trade a high pick in next year’s draft and/or a talented player and go up and get him at the bottom of the first or top of the second round (if he’s still available).
C) Hope he somehow falls all the way down to the top of the third round. D) Trade down from the third spot with the Miami Dolphins or Arizona Cardinals and pick up the USC product with the No. 7 or No. 12 overall pick.
If Barkley lands with Oakland, the latter option (D) looks to be the most likely scenario. He would certainly be a solid scheme fit and would presumably have the upper hand over Terrelle Pryor and Matt Flynn heading into camp.
3. Arizona Cardinals: Ryan Lindley, Drew Stanton, Brian Hoyer and Carson Palmer may not want to get too comfortable in the desert—and not just because the Cardinals recently cut ties with John Skelton and Kevin Kolb.
It’s almost a foregone conclusion that this club will select a quarterback in the first round three rounds of the draft. It’s just a question of who and when the team will make its move. While Mike Glennon will most likely be the guy, there’s still a strong chance that the Cardinals would pull the trigger if Barkley is available at the No. 38 spot and could consider moving up to get him.
4. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib is the overwhelming favorite to compete for the starting job in Buffalo with Kevin Kolb this offseason, but there are a handful of other teams (including each team mentioned in this piece) that could wind up with Nassib.
If the club doesn’t land the star signal-caller out of Syracuse, Barkley would be among the few other legitimate options (along with Geno Smith, Mike Glennon and E.J. Manuel) for the Bills through the first three rounds of the draft at quarterback.
5. Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weeden has talent and plenty of potential. He may receive another year to prove himself as the starter, but he’s been slow to develop he’ll turn 30-years-old in October. Moreover, nobody on the management staff was with the team when Weeden was selected with the No. 22 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
So while Weeden could have a strong second season with improved protection and added weapons, there’s a very strong chance the new regime decides to go in a different direction and drafts a quarterback in the early rounds.
Barkley might be tough to pass up for the in the sixth spot for the Browns, let alone somewhere around the middle of the first round (should the team choose to trade down and stockpile after losing its second-round pick for Josh Gordon).
He may not have elite arm strength, height or mobility, but Barkley does possess a plethora of experience and milestones in a pro-style offense—throwing for 12,327 yards with 116 TDs (both Pac-12 records) in 36 starts over the last three years at USC—and his poise, leadership, approach to the game and decision-making ability could make him a very tempting option for the seven teams mentioned above on April 25.
If he doesn’t follow the likes of Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer and Mark Sanchez as the fourth first-round passer to come from the confides of USC since 2003, expect GMs around the league to be on the phones—perhaps into the middle of the night after the first day of the draft to try to pick up the star signal-caller at the top of the second round.
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He’s also about to start reporting on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyze important issues in the liberty movement for a political website. Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter. Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GridironGrit to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!