Matt Barkley held high expectations of himself and from outsiders when he decided to stay at USC for his senior year, but his individual performance and that of his team has many disappointed. There is a silver lining, as Barkley is not expected to tumble too far down NFL draft boards and should hear his name called in the first round next April.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com took a lengthy look at Barkley's attributes and how they may grade out in the NFL. He concludes that Barkley has taken a hit by returning for his senior year, but it hasn't been terribly damaging:
Barkley was considered a strong possibility as a top-15 pick a year ago, but elected to return to school to hone his game for the pros. He has shown progress in some areas, but he is not the elite quarterback prospect some thought he'd be prior to the season. He is not in the same class as current young standouts Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers), Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) and Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins), but he has enough polish and potential to still merit consideration as a pick in the latter half of the first round. Given the number of teams that are desperate for a quarterback, though, I expect Barkley will come off the board within the first 20 selections of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Barkley has still put up big numbers as a senior. He as completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,273 yards and 36 touchdowns. However, those numbers look less impressive when held up to his junior season, when he completed 69 percent and threw just seven interceptions, eight less than he has tallied so far in 2012.