Quarterback Matt Barkley is projected as a second-round pick after throwing 116 touchdown passed during his USC career. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Having already worked out four of the top quarterbacks in this year’s NFL draft class, the Buffalo Bills are turning their attention to USC’s Matt Barkley.
The Bills will hold a private workout for Barkley and former Trojans receiver Robert Woods in Los Angeles on Monday, according to ESPN.com’s James Walker.
Buffalo holds the No. 8 overall pick in the first round, as well as the No. 41 overall pick in the second round — closer to where Barkley is projected to go. The team released starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier this month, but could focus its draft on the defensive side of the ball after allowed 27.2 points per game last season.
Buffalo has held private workouts for West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Florida State’s E.J. Manuel, Oklahoma’s Landry Jones and Tennessee’s Tyler Bray.
But the team could have particular interest in Barkley, who threw for 3,273 yards and 36 touchdowns during his senior season, given first-year head coach Doug Marrone’s affinity for him.
After facing Barkley twice over the last two seasons while at Syracuse, Bills first-year coach Doug Marrone raved about the former Trojans’ quarterback’s comfort-level within a pro-style system. In the two wins, Barkley went 49 of 69 (71.0 percent) for 511 yards with 11 touchdowns and only one interception. In a 38-17 win in September of 2011, Barkley checked down to his running backs four times when the Orange eliminated his deep option downfield.
“If he doesn’t like what’s going on when they (take away) the deep vertical threats, he can come right back to the backs,” said Marrone, days before the Orange’s 42-29 loss to the Trojans in September. “That’s one of the things you see with the top guys in the NFL.”
Marrone even indicated that Barkley could have been the first quarterback selected behind Andrew Luck if he entered the Draft last season. If selected by the Bills, Barkley’s experience with a short-passing game and his proficiency in making pre-snap adjustments could help him fit within Marrone’s West Coast offense.