Matt Barkley's senior year did a number on his draft stock, but his character and off-field demeanor may send him back up the board, reports Gil Brandt. Brandt spoke to Barkley in advance of USC's Pro Day and came away impressed with his positive attitude, determination and what he's done to prepare for the opportunity.
Barkley was unable to throw at the NFL Combine, but he will do so at his pro day. He has been preparing with Chris Weinke, former pro quarterback and director of the IMG Academy. Weinke has experience prepping players for the draft; he worked with first overall pick Cam Newton in 2011.
Barkley was once seen as a potential first overall pick, but that time has passed. He certainly won't go that high, but he could easily sneak up the board if a team decides to take a chance. (SB Nation's latest mock draft does not include Barkley being selected in the first round.) The Trojans' 2012 season was widely considered a disappointment, going from being ranked No. 1 in the AP's pre-season poll to finishing 7-6 with losses to Stanford, Oregon, UCLA and to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. Barkley had key interceptions in each of the regular-season defeats, but missed the Sun Bowl with the same shoulder injury that prevented him from throwing at the Combine.
Despite a lackluster senior year, Barkley is still a four-year starter who averaged more than 3,000 yards per season, with 116 touchdowns and 48 interceptions in his career. Given the lack of quarterbacks in the draft, it's a certainty that someone is looking his way with interest. Two teams rumored to be doing just that are the Buffalo Bills and the Arizona Cardinals. Bills blog Buffalo Rumblings took a look at pro day being make-or-break for Barkley, and Cardinals blog Revenge of the Birds made the case for why Barkley belongs in Arizona.