Matt Barkley, once regarded as a good bet for being the top overall pick, decided to come back for his senior season at USC with a chance to make a bowl game. We've already seen a shoulder injury prevent him from doing the latter, but it appears that a lackluster senior season and the emergence of a quarterback at West Virginia will also stop him from doing the former.
It now looks like if any quarterback is going to be selected at No. 1, it's going to be Geno Smith. But even Smith saw his star quickly lose its shine as the college football season wore on. Smith threw an incredible 25 touchdowns and no interceptions over his first five games, including eight touchdowns against Baylor and a 48-45 win over Texas, but the Mountaineers and Smith faded during the Big 12 season.
Over the final eight games of the year, Smith had 17 touchdowns against six interceptions, and West Virginia went 2-6 over that span. Because of that, the idea of Smith being the prize of the 2013 draft started to wain, but there's still a chance he can wow at the combine. Some mock drafts still have him going to the Chiefs with the top pick.
Matthew Fairburn projects Smith to Kansas City in SBNation's Mock Draft.
He has excellent pocket presence, keeps his eyes downfield and has better deep accuracy than any quarterback in this class. The Chiefs have a solid roster outside of the quarterback position. Why would they pass on the clear-cut top quarterback in the draft?
One person that disagrees with that assessment is Rob Rang of CBS Sports, who has the quarterback falling to the Eagles with the fourth pick of the draft. Rang does not believe that Nick Foles is the answer:
Nick Foles finished 1-5 in six games as a starter for the Eagles, providing scant evidence that the franchise should put their future in his hands. Aa quarterback with Smith's intriguing skill set will certainly catch the attention of Andy Reid's replacement.
They disagree on the placement of Smith, but both have Geno ahead of Barkley. It's just a matter of how far ahead they really think Smith is over Barkley. Fairburn tabs the USC quarterback to fall all the way to the Dallas Cowboys at 18, making him the heir apparent to Tony Romo as Jerry Jones tries to figure out why his team isn't the Super Bowl champion every season. Is Barkley the answer after a disappointing senior season?
Barkley faced just two ranked teams all season, with USC losing to Stanford and Oregon. The senior quarterback threw two interceptions in each of those games. Barkley ended up throwing nice interceptions over his last four starts before missing the regular-season finale against Notre Dame with a shoulder injury.
Rang doesn't have him falling past the Cardinals at No. 7, but doesn't do so with much of a ringing endorsement:
Barkley has fallen in the eyes of many scouts but we all know how the value of the position rises as the draft approaches. Barkley may not be universally viewed as a first round player any more but that may not matter come draft day.
Neither Smith nor Barkley has taken a firm grasp on being the first quarterback taken in April, and it's possible that we won't know much until draft day is upon us. It appears that Smith has the lead, but there's still the NFL combine and Pro Days, and anything could happen.
If there's much disagreement about which player is better and where they will land in the draft, that's probably appropriate. As of January, no quarterback has really done much lately to quell any doubts. There's still time left however to clear up the confusion. But will they?