Last year, it widely was believed that USC quarterback Matt Barkley would have been one of the top picks in the draft, if he had decided to go to the NFL. And while the scouting process may have indeed resulted in a drop, it’s hard to imagine Barkley falling out of the first three rounds in 2012.
This year, 97 players have been taken, and Barkley still waits. On Thursday, there was a belief in some league circles that the Jaguars were targeting Barkley or Ryan Nassib at the top of round two. By Friday afternoon, that became an expectation that the Jags would take Jonathan Cyprien or Johnathan Banks with pick 33. (They took Cyprien.)
Some believe that a run on quarterbacks will happen in round four — in part because it has to happen at some point. But the belief also flows from the reality that, in a draft that featured widely diverging opinions about the individual quarterbacks, at least four teams had Barkley rated as the best of them all.
The teams that could take a serious look at Barkley in round four include the Jaguars at No. 98, the Raiders at No. 100, the Patriots at No. 102 (which would allow them to trade Ryan Mallett, and enable the media to once again proclaim Bill Belichick to be a super genius), the Cardinals at No. 103, the Packers at No. 109 (Graham Harrell . . . enough said), the Cardinals again at No. 110, the Browns at No. 111, the Rams at No. 113 (Sam Bradford, given his contract, arguably is in a make-or-break year), the Steelers at No. 115 (they’ve said they could take a young quarterback to back up Ben Roethlisberger), the Bengals at No. 118 (they love guys with first-round talent who slide), the Seahawks at No. 123 (Pete Carroll recruited Barkley), and the Texans at No. 124.
Of course, the fact that we’ve listed so many likely means one of the teams drafting in round four that we didn’t mention will take him. We’ll find out whether and where he goes in round four fairly soon.