There are quarterback talents that occasionally fall out of the first round of the NFL Draft to land with an immensely happy team in the second round. Andy Dalton is one and the Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t be happier. Russell Wilson fell all the way to the third (he was a first round talent, just a little short) and the Seattle Seahawks couldn’t be more pleased. Maybe this year it’ll be Matt Barkley.
Recently, Todd McShay published a two round mock draft that gave the Jaguars Dion Jordan at second overall and Matt Barkley at 33 overall. As one of our readers wisely commented:
To get him in the second round would be a steal, in my opinion. The guy has been working in a pro-style offense literally since the 7th grade, and has been calling his own plays since the 8th grade (his high school coach had never allowed a QB to call his own plays, including Matt Leinart, until Barkley). That being said, I just can’t possibly believe that he will last until the second round.
I agree, he would be a steal in round two. Barkley is a football junky. He is a premium talent. He knows the game inside and out and has shown that he has the arm to be successful in the NFL. But he also had a really bad year during his senior season at USC.
That bad season alone isn’t enough to keep teams away from Barkley. Barkley impressed everyone at the NFL Scouting Combine, even though he didn’t work out, and showed that he may have all the intangibles you look for in a franchise quarterback. So, why won’t he be picked in the first round?
Really, it all comes down to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Geno Smith. There are five “quarterback needy” teams in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. They are, in pick order, the Jacksonville Jaguars (2), the Oakland Raiders (3), the Arizona Cardinals (7), the Buffalo Bills (8), and the New York Jets (9). You could arguably include the Kansas City Chiefs (1) and Minnesota Vikings (23, 25) as well. I believe the Chiefs will stand pat following the trade for Alex Smith. All the Geno Smith stuff in KC is just a smokescreen. The Vikings are likely willing to give Christian Ponder another shot, though I would move past him if I were them. Adrian Peterson can’t get 2,000 yards every season.
Of the Jaguars, Raiders, Cards, Bills, and Jets, the Jaguars, Cardinals, and Bills appear to be the most to take a quarterback in the first round. The Raiders have a trade going through for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn and have interest in Kevin Kolb if that falls through. I believe that eliminates them from the round one QB sweepstakes. The Bills have interest in Kevin Kolb and have Tarvaris Jackson, who is by no means a franchise quarterback, which could solve all of their problems. While I think the Bills could take a quarterback in the first round, I don’t think they will if Geno Smith is off the board. The Jets have too many holes on their roster to take a quarterback in the first round. They also seem set on having a competition featuring ex-Jaguars starter David Garrard against the circus they had last season.
So, we have the Jaguars, Cardinals, and Bills with the Jags are Cards seeming the most likely. If the Jaguars take Geno Smith, will either the Cards or Bills take Barkley at seven or eight? Bleacher Report did an analysis of Barkley’s Pro Day and snuck this in there about new Arizona head coach Bruce Arians:
The Arizona Cardinals, too, would really like a new quarterback and have been linked to Barkley. However if you look at the quarterbacks that Bruce Arians has succeeded with—Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck—all have been bigger bodies with bigger arms with the ability to take big chances. That isn’t Matt Barkley. That isn’t even close to Matt Barkley.
I’m inclined to agree. As good as Barkley can be, he isn’t a once-in-a-generation type talent. He just doesn’t have the big arm to match players like Luck. Will the Bills take a run at Barkley if he’s on the board if Arizona passes? I don’t think so.
While Fansided site Buffalo Low Down has noted there is some fan push for Barkley, they seem to be interested in fixing some other holes during the draft. The Bills have a private workout scheduled with Barkley (and USC wide receiver Robert Woods), but I see that more as a fact-finding mission than anything else at this point. The Bills will have worked out five quarterbacks already this offseason.
I think the Cardinals, who desperately need to rebuild their offensive line, will focus on that major need in the first round. It appears that the Bills are weighing their options and are unsettled in the build up to the draft. If the Jaguars don’t take Geno Smith at second overall, one of the two may bite but the other may let Barkley slip. If he does, he could go all the way to the second round because no team beyond pick nine is really needy at quarterback.
If that happens, a scenario like Mcshay laid out could result and the Jaguars could come away with a top pass rusher like Jordan and a top quarterback like Barkley.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims