Washington Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that he would select USC quarterback Matt Barkley ahead of the presumed top-ranked QB prospect, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, if he were drafting a quarterback right now. It was a bold statement, ameliorated somewhat by Sarkisian’s history with Barkley; when Sarkisian was an assistant with USC, he helped recruit Barkley to the team.
Doug Farrar of Yahoo!’s Shutdown Corner blog found Sarkisian’s assertion interesting enough to get a second opinion. Farrar turned to Rob Rang, senior draft analyst on NFLDraftScout.com; Rang wasn’t willing to go quite as far as Sarkisian, but according to Farrar, Rang did offer substantial praise for the USC passer:
With the improvements that Matt Barkley has made this season in his pocket presence and down-field accuracy, he has emerged as the clear second best pro quarterback prospect in the country following only Stanford’s Andrew Luck. There is no denying that Oklahoma junior Landry Jones has superior arm strength to Barkley (and Luck, for that matter), but Barkley is significantly more mobile inside and out of the pocket, possesses the intelligence and leadership skills that NFL teams value at the quarterback position and has plenty of arm strength to make stick throws.
Barkley is a junior and could choose to return to USC for another season rather than entering the NFL draft.