Matt Barkley would have been the third quarterback taken in the 2012 Draft had he come out as a junior.
The Southern Cal passer took a step back from his season last year and now has teams scratching their heads whether he is the next great player to come out of California or will he become another Tim Couch.
Barkley has a place in the NFL based on his football acumen and his maturity.
But there are intangibles that make him a risk. Remember the names Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez. Need I say more?
I believe in the next 19 days, Barkley may become the hottest name on draft boards and sports social media sites.
Time will tell if he does hear his name called in the first round of the Draft, or will he slide to the second round where a team may get a steal?
As CBSsportsline.com said in its assessment of Barkley, “Some will knock his size, average arm strength or the fact that he has never faced SEC competition. While Barkley is a touch shorter than scouts would prefer, I've had numerous sources who saw him in person at the Manning Passing Academy tell me he showed greater zip than expected, though I'd like to see him improve his accuracy on the deep ball.”
Here are five places Barkley could wind up.
1. Arizona - I do not think the team trading for Carson Palmer is finished with making quarterback moves. Palmer is not the answer for this team in the future.
New head coach Bruce Arians spent time in Indianapolis with Andrew Luck and knows a thing or two about quarterbacks (he also was a mentor to Ben Roethlisberger). This could be a great landing spot for Barkley and the Cardinals could trade down in the first round, still pick up draft picks and get their passer of the future.
2. Dallas - You know Jerry Jones loves controversy. This would certainly do that. He just signed Tony Romo to a $100 million contract and asked backup Kyle Orton to restructure his contract to make that happen. While Romo is set to be the Cowboys' quarterback for the short future, don’t be shocked if the team takes a swipe at a passer and Barkley could be the name Jones is after.
3. Oakland - If the team takes Sharrif Floyd at No. 3, then they may seek a quarterback in the second round or trade back into the first round to get one. Matt Flynn was a nice pickup from Seattle via trade. The question remains is he Brett Favre-lite or is he the next coming of Rob Johnson? And what does this team do with Terrelle Pryor?
4. New England - This may be the best place for Barkley. The Patriots are a team that still has Tom Brady. But if you have not noticed, Brady signed a huge contract and is 35 years old and will not play forever. Barkley could be the backup and get mop-up duty while learning the Patriots’ offense. This could be a huge pick by Bill Belichick.
5. Buffalo - Somehow, I think team general manager Buddy Nix has Barkley on his radar. But at the eighth pick, this team is slated by some teams to take Geno Smith. I don’t see that happening. If he is available in the second round, I could see the Bills trading with the Jaguars for pick No. 33.
(Surprise Pick) Pittsburgh - Don’t count this out for several reasons. Ben Roethlisberger is the most battered quarterback in the league. He is also the toughest and that means he takes a beating and keeps on ticking.
But injuries have kept him out of the lineup last season and players like Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich are just journeymen. This team should at least think about the future and have a solid passer to be there.... just in case.