When Matt Barkley returned to USC for his senior year, it was likely with visions of bagging a national championship and the Heisman Trophy before entering the NFL as the No. 1 pick in next April's draft. However, Barkley's subpar performance in this disappointing season that has ensued is threatening to send him plummeting down draft boards across the league.
The Trojans are sitting at 7-4 with just one game remaining in the regular season, and USC is out of contention in the Pac-12 race. Barkley doesn't have a chance of winning college's top individual prize, either, with playmakers like Kansas State QB Collin Klein, Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel and Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o emerging as the main contenders.
Now, it is important to note that Barkley was not a lock to be a top-10 pick a season ago. In fact, scouts told me last spring that Barkley wasn't a cinch to be the third quarterback in the 2012 draft class, despite having a more impressive collegiate résumé than Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill (who went to the Miami Dolphins with the eighth overall pick) and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden (drafted by the Cleveland Browns at 22nd overall). Evaluators cited Barkley's lack of elite physical tools (height, arm talent and athleticism) as major concerns. Although Barkley was listed at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, scouts questioned whether he was tall enough to play the position at the next level, and worried that his lack of athleticism would make him a sitting duck in the pocket.