Matt Kalil (OT, USC) and David De Castro (OG, Stanford) will both be part of the 2012 NFL draft. The two highly rated offensive lineman made their intentions clear today and won’t be part of the PAC-12 next season. Both are the highest ranked players at their position, with Kalil very likely to be taken within the first three picks.
It’s no surprise De Castro is turning pro with Andrew Luck set to enter the NFL as the #1 pick. His stock can’t get any higher and the Cardinal will not match their achievements of the last two years in 2012. Kalil is a different case entirely. Here’s how he explained the decision, “I realize that if I came back to USC next season, I could be part of some special things here and potentially win a national championship. That was very tempting. But in my research, I came to the conclusion that I can be the No. 1 tackle drafted and you can’t go any higher than that. Now is the right time to go. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I have to take it.”
Kalil’s decision to turn pro won’t define Matt Barkley’s next move, but it could impact it. Had Kalil chosen to return to USC it’d be an indicator that Barkley would make a similar decision as the Trojans look to mount a legit national title bid. Barkley losing his blind side blocker gives him something further to contemplate as he runs through his options.
There’s no doubt in my mind what Barkley should do. He’s been successful at USC and should be remembered fondly for guiding that team through a difficult stretch. He doesn’t need a national title or a PAC-12 Championship to legitimise his time in SoCal. Barkley is ready not just to enter the NFL, but to start quickly. That’s not to say it’ll be a smooth transition where he plays at a pro-bowl level from week one, but he’s more than capable of matching Matt Ryan’s rookie production on the right team.
With an incredibly weak looking quarterback class for 2013, staying in school could come with a possible shot at going first overall. But he’s already had three years starting, he’s got what he needed from USC which was the best possible preparation to enter the NFL. He’s one injury or one bad stretch of form from wasting a year and delaying the inevitable.
If Barkley does return to USC, at least there’s some rhyme or reason to it. He’s played in one low ranking bowl game so far due to sanctions. He’s not won major individual awards, again largely due to the impact of the sanctions. Robert Griffin III hasn’t only dragged every possible ounce of achievement out of Baylor, he’s gone beyond that by winning a Heisman. Baylor will not win a national title next year, they probably won’t win even the Big-12 and Griffin’s stock will never get higher. Yahoo’s Jason Cole says Griffin will declare and play football in Washington or Miami. RG3 also appeared on KJR today and told Softy it’d be “an honor” to play for Pete Carroll in Seattle.
In many ways, Griffin has the kind of skill set that the Seahawks appear to be looking for. He’s the one player who could really generate some buzz on draft day – Griffin’s already a star and his public image is through the roof. Team’s will fight over guys like RG3 (he even has a cool and marketable nickmame) and a bidding war could easily break out. From a financial point of view if for no other reasons, teams will pine over Griffin. Would the Seahawks get involved? I’m not convinced, but not because they won’t rate the guy. Let’s not forget that Pete Carroll recruited Matt Barkley in a big way. Pete Carroll made Matt Barkley the first ever starting true freshman quarterback at USC. It wouldn’t surprise me if Pete Carroll pushes hard to bring Matt Barkley to Seattle to be his quarterback for the long haul.
The pressure would be intense, especially if it involves trading up. There’s a stigma to being attached to highly-drafted quarterbacks and that stigma only grows when you have the kind of college ties Carroll and Barkley enjoy. Yet such is the NFL and if that’s the biggest thing the Seahawks have to contend with upon drafting their franchise quarterback, it’s not something they should fear.
We will have to wait a little longer to hear whether Barkley declares, but what chance he’ll be wearing Seahawks blue next season if he chooses to turn pro?
Thanks to JMPasq for supplying the game tape above (Matt Kalil vs Oregon)