On December 22, 2011, USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley announced his intentions to return for his senior season. A sure top-five pick, Barkley’s return sets up a promising 2012 campaign for the Trojans, and he still remains the projected top prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft, but what if he had opted to forgo his senior season? THE SPORTS DISPENCER analyzes what could have been in this week’s edition of What If.
Top Five Shakeup
Matt Barkley’s entrance would add a third elite QB prospect to an already deep quarterback class. The Colts would be left to decide between Matt Barkley, Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin III. All three prospects provide their own unique skill sets and would leave analysts scrambling to assemble an accurate mock draft. Here is ours:
1. QB Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)
The Colts find it hard to choose anyone other than the prospect dubbed the best since Manning.
2. QB Matt Barkley (Washington Redskins via St. Louis Rams)
Washington still trades up to the two slot but opts for a more traditional quarterback in Barkley.
3. QB Robert Griffin III (Cleveland Browns via Minnesota Vikings)
The Vikings auction their pick off to the highest bidder, and the Browns’ two first-round picks are difficult to overlook.
4. OT Matt Khalil (Minnesota Vikings via Cleveland Browns)
The Vikings pick up an extra first-round pick and still get their man.
5. RB Trent Richardson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
With RG3 heading to Cleveland, the Alabama star finds a home in Tampa.
Unwilling to shell out three first-round picks, Cleveland lost out in their pursuit of Robert Griffin III, but with Matt Barkley’s arrival, the Browns would receive the franchise quarterback they have long coveted. The Heisman winner’s presence would make an instant impact in Cleveland. His playmaking ability and star status would revitalize the Browns and give fans the franchise star they have long deserved.
In 2012, Matt Barkley’s return positions himself as Heisman frontrunner and leaves the Trojans poised to contend for a Pac-12 and BCS title. His connection with All-American wide receiver Robert Woods spells trouble to opposing defenses and will land both in the top five in next year’s draft. Had Barkley chosen not to return, his loss combined with the loss of offensive tackle Matt Khalil would have proven too difficult to overcome and likely have knocked the Trojans out of title contention.
What do you think? Anything we missed? Any other What If Wednesday suggestions? Comment below and let the discussion begin.