Matt Barkley decided to keep playing quarterback at USC this year instead of entering the NFL draft. But Barkley believes that if he had entered this year’s draft, he would have been the second player taken.
Barkley said on the Dan Patrick Show that although he believes the Colts had already locked in on taking Andrew Luck first overall long before Barkley even decided whether or not to enter the draft, he definitely believed at the time that he chose to return to USC in January that he was an elite prospect.
“I had confidence that I was going to go high, it wasn’t really a question of that as to why I came back,” Barkley said. “I think it was a sure bet that Andrew was going to go No. 1.”
Asked if he thinks he — not Robert Griffin III — would have gone No. 2 after Luck went No. 1, Barkley said he does.
“I had confidence in that — I think I could have been,” Barkley said.
That’s possible, but NFL teams seemed to fall so deeply in love with Griffin at the Scouting Combine that it’s unlikely Barkley would have been drafted ahead of Griffin. A more interesting question is how the rest of the draft would have shaken out with Barkley in the mix. Maybe the trading hot spot wouldn’t have been the second overall pick, where the Redskins traded up so they could draft Griffin, but the third overall pick, which teams might have targeted to ensure that they’d get one of the three top quarterbacks.
Barkley mentioned the Redskins, Vikings and Dolphins as teams he’s heard have interest in him. The Redskins and Dolphins both ended up drafting other quarterbacks in the first round this year, so we can cross them off the list of teams that might draft Barkley in 2013, although the Vikings could be in the market for Barkley in 2013 if they have another bad season with 2011 first-round pick Christian Ponder at the helm.
However, there’s no guarantee that Barkley will be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Several other quarterbacks — including Tyler Wilson of Arkansas, Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech and Landry Jones of Oklahoma — could be a strong 2012 college football season away from being the top pick in 2013. Even if Barkley is right that he would have gone No. 2 this year, he still has a lot of work to do before NFL teams decide on their grades for him next year.