Matt Barkley (QB, USC) vs Stanford

Ranked at #1 in our top 40 watch list, Matt Barkley probably should be the #1 overall pick next year. That doesn’t mean he will be. Teams are enamoured with big, athletic quarterbacks. It’s not so much why an elite talent like Cam Newton goes #1 overall, but it is a reason why guys like Jake Locker and Ryan Tannehill become top-ten picks. Barkley isn’t the big time athlete with ideal height, a huge arm and plus mobility. He’s a surgeon who’s technically better than any quarterback I’ve ever seen in college.

We’ve seen eight quarterbacks drafted in round one in the last two drafts so Barkley won’t sink, but if a physically superior quarterback (such as Logan Thomas) has an excellent year there’s every chance he won’t go #1 overall. There are other things that could lead to a minor fall. Can Barkley live up to expectations after a fantastic 2011 season? Will a fourth year starting lead to over-analysis if he’s less than perfect? Will teams be slightly concerned by the lack of success experienced by previous USC quarterbacks like Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez?

Pete Carroll has a strong bond with Matt Barkley. I think both would love the opportunity to work together again in the NFL, for multiple reasons. And despite John Schneider’s penchant for picks, it won’t prevent Seattle from moving up the board for the right player if required. If the Seahawks are in a position where they feel they need to draft a quarterback in round one in 2013 (and who knows if that’ll be the case), they’ll probably be in a position where moving up would be manageable. Still, we’re getting well ahead of ourselves here…


  1. creid

    I think that there’s a really good chance that Barkley slips out of the top 5, whether he has a great season or not. I like Barkley a lot and I expect him to have a huge season, but I think he’s in a position to get nitpicked to death.

    Between playing on arguably the most talented offense in the country over the last few years and having less than ideal physical traits (beyond athleticism/arm strength, he looks shorter than his 6’2″ list height), it could be really easy for NFL GM’s to talk themselves into taking an Logan Thomas, EJ Manuel, Tyler Wilson or whatever other physical marvel takes the college world by storm. That temptation could be increased if unpolished physical talents like Newton, Griffin, Locker, Tannehill et al, have success.

    On the other hand, if Russell Wilson sets the league on fire maybe shorter QBs will be en vogue. Here’s to hoping.

  2. SHawn

    Not a big fan. He overthrows guys a lot and most (not all) of his “pretty” throws come only when he has no pressure and about three yards of room around him. I think he will be solid in the NFL, maybe elite in a few years, but with Russell on the team, I dont see QB as a dire need at all anymore.

    My prediction for next year’s 1st rd targets: WR/DT/LB. We all know we will be targeting a WR at some point early next year. DT could become a need depending on how Jones does and if we can retain him. And this FO likes to keep the LB corps young and underpaid. I think next year starts the era of our rookies having to really compete for playing time. The roster is beginning to look pretty solid at every position.

    • hawkfan

      I agree with you on Barkley. I don’t think he has the elite potential some of the other qbs do. I think with him the statement, “what you see is what you get” applies. He might improve a little, but you can’t improve physically and that is where many of his negatives are. I believe you can improve technically, which gives the other guys more potential. I see him as a Matt Ryan or Hasselbeck type player. I would rather have Thomas, Wilson, and maybe even some of the guys like Geno Smith who have a lot of potential, over Barkley, because I believe Flynn is very similar to Barkley and I don’t believe Barkley is worth the cost (draft position or trading for him). I think he is extremely overrated, but a good qb, nonetheless.

      I also see the USC connection between Pete and Barkley as overplayed. Pete has never preferred any USC player over any other player, as shown in his treatment of Taylor Mays and Lendale White and not going crazy for Leinart. He’ll treat Barkley as any other prospect and in my view, his shortcomings will prevent Pete from going all out for him. If the need arises for a qb, I believe they will go after Thomas or Wilson or even Geno Smith, because they will look at those guys as guys with more potential and they can mold those guys into what they want, unlike Barkley, who more or less is the player he is going to be in the pros.

      As for your predicted needs, they all are debatable IMO, besides LB. I could see WR becoming a strength, if Lockette and Durham break out, along with sustained production from the rest of the receiving corps. This would lead to WR not being targeted unless it is BPA. As for DT, we drafted Howard in the 4th and with Pete’s late round success the guy might also work out. Even if Jones leaves, Howard would be able to fill in and we would just need late round depth at NT. We should always be looking to add speed at LB and if Toomer is a SLB, we will need a WLB in the near future to replace Hill, who was not able to cover TEs last year. That is why I was hoping Toomer would be a WLB. If that is not the case we should add a guy like Jarvis Jones, if possible, to our lb corps and add speed and versatility and depth.

      We might need to add a pass rusher to replace Clemons, depending on if he is re-signed or not. Also, a speed RB would be great to replace Washington, who I feel is getting old and slower. Overall, I feel we can draft BPA and that is the first time I can truly say that in a long time and maybe ever. Pete and John have done a good job rebuilding the team. Now it’s time to see whether they can put it all together and put a winning product on the field, instead of the 7-9 record, we’ve seen the last two years.

      • peter

        I agree with the USC connection thing…hopefuly that dies out this year. I can’t see LB being a need with Wagner, Wright and toomer, that’s a whole new core or at least 2/3’s of one.

        I can kind of see the what you see is what you get angle on Barkeley. But I disagree with you that, that is a negative. What I see is a technician who is better at dissecting opponents and making reads then almost any prospect I have watched, including Luck this year. Ican even understand the potential argument…but there is something to be said for a guy who is maxed out, but who’s maxed out level is so much higher then the competition. Logan Thomas could easily be the first pick off the board and Tyler Wislson, Geno Smith could be great….but adn htis is just me…I don’t see it as a knock at all that one Qb has nearly mastered making reads and diagnosing plays before everyone else. In some regards I see that as a flaw on the others that they haven’t learned that skill to his level yet.

  3. Rory

    Haven’t really come to a conclusion on Barkley. I definitely have him and Logan Thomas as the top 2, with Wilson a distant third. Not sure who I’d list first though. I like Barkley’s pocket presence, always shifting, quick meaningful footwork. I know that footwork is supposed to be directly linked to accuracy, so that’s a good thing. The tape above doesn’t seem to great. I didn’t see too many wow throws, then again, he was playing Stanford, so that’s understandable.

    If I had to make a decision right now, I’d probably give the edge to Logan Thomas.

    I’d be lying if I said I could tell how well quarterbacks go through their reads by watching tape like this, but I’ve heard Barkley is outstanding in that respect, so maybe the edge goes back to Barkley.

  4. adam

    If the qb situation on the hawks fails…that is if Flynn, Jackson, or Wilson(less so) does not lead this team to a playoff victory, then i suspect that PC\JS make a move for Barkley. It is no fate accompli that of the qb and the head coach, it is a selfish fate. Two years, this year and next is a period in which PC/JS need to nail down a efficient qb. By efficient i think at least one playoff victory. However Wilson seems to be a 1.98 of Barkley…if not more…so it seems to me that PC/JS have placed their faith in Wilson or Flynn to be the leader and quarterback of their team. More so Wilson, but i think a Barkley all out draft trade would not be out of the question if these qb’s play par with what T.Jackson did last year. We all expect improved play from the qb and therefore the team, indeed we will see it (imo), but just how long can PC/JS attempt to find a franchise qb? Whitehurst was a mistake, Jackson so far is a mistake, what about Wilson and Flynn?

    • peter


      In keeping with the above theme. I think Barkeley is an amazing talent. Regardless of build. Between him and Thomas of course people are more impressed with THomas’ size and skills, but Brees/manning aren’t exactly “built,” nor is Stafford, but the three of them can tear it up for totally different reasons. The conundrum I have is before Barkeley remained at USC I was all about it.This year, just do what it takes and move up to take him. More so then Suck for Luck and Don’t win For Griffin( the third)…ughh terrible made up chant by me……But now if the defense really turns another corner, and Flynn/Wilson play even a bit better then Tjax, it’s hard for me to see the Hawks at less then 9 wins more like 10. With the 49ers coming back down to earth bit, 10 wins may take the division. I no longer can see a situation where we are at say the 10-12 pick again and we cut bait and move to take Barkeley unless he REALLY falls on draft day. Thoughts?

      • Rob Staton

        It will all come down to the performance of who starts at quarterback. The Seahawks would have to feel very comfortable with someone to avoid drafting a QB early next year. Someone needs to make them second guess that possibility.

  5. Ben2

    Adam – I don’t know I’d call the PC/JS QB moves mistakes per se…Can you think of an opportunity that this FO had to get a quality QB but passed up on in lieu of one of the QBs you mentioned above? I can’t. Whitehurst is the closest to a failure because we overspent draft capital to acquire him. He was a gamble – the FO was hoping to pull a Hasselbeck out of the bag. Sometimes you have to take a chance to move forward (in hindsight we just overpaid for that “chance”). The FO knew Tjack wasn’t going to be a world beater, but we needed to move on badly from the Hasselbeck era and the options were very limited – the only opportunity they passed on was Andy Dalton. No thanks. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that the term “mistake” implies that a decision was made when there was a better option available and that really hasn’t been the case.

  6. Colin

    After watching hours of the second tier group of QB’s this year, Barkley is so far ahead of them it’s not even funny. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him go to Oakland #1 overall. He goes through reads incredibly well, and his arm is better than people want to give him credit for.

  7. AlaskaHawk

    Going into the draft I thought that we would have to pick the #4 QB because of our mid-round position. I don’t think that will change next year. This leads me to believe that if we pick a QB in the first round it will be someone like Geno Smith. That’s not a bad choice for a #4 ranked QB (he may be ranked anywhere from #3 to #6 by end of year).

    Do we need another QB? Seems like we have two – three to play with now. I’m not sure we will be able to play them all this year. Most likely any of them will play well but not well enough to say this is the QBOF.

  8. James

    Here’s what I think about the Seahawks drafting Barkley:

    – If the Seahawks are a comparable team to last year, for example, if Tarvaris is somehow the starter again, or if the run of bad injury luck continues, especially at OL or WR, then based on a sober look at the 2012 schedule, their record projects to about 5-11. To be this bad, this would mean that both Flynn and Wilson failed, so Barkley might be available around pick # 5, or a trade-up at reasonable cost.

    – If Flynn or Wilson (probably Wilson, based on Pete’s comments and past track record at USC) prove to be a huge improvement over T-Jack, and the injury luck is better, with the OL and WR corps staying pretty much intact, then the Seahawks record projects to about 9 – 7, due to diffuculty of schedule. Therefore, no Barkley.

    …after having looking at so many QBs over the off-season, honestly Barkley is no where near the prospect that Russell Wilson is. He is only a couple of inches taller. Barkley reminds me a lot of Sanchez in terms of size and arm strength, but with better fundamentals and decision-making, yet he is not the electric play-maker that Russell is. If you rate every QB attribute, Wilson would be A+ for everything but height…Barkley would rate at B+ in most categories (sorry, I just don’t see any attribute that could possibly be described as best-ever). And, Russell has a higher release point than Barkley, despite their size. The Seahawks already have their QB of the future.

    • Rob Staton

      That’s a big assumption and I disagree on the Sanchez comparison. People will only make that comparison because it’s USC, they are nothing like each other. There’s a lot of bromance there between PC and MB.

      • AlaskaHawk

        I’m not sure that a 9-7 record will be enough to say this is the QBOF. We are building the team around a run first, pass second offense. With both Marshawn Lynch and Turbin running the ball and a healthy offensive line, we should be able to get a 9-7 record with any competent QB including TJ.

        So to really prove that someone is QBOF they would have to:
        1. Have a great QB rating overall.
        2. Lead the Hawks to 4th quarter victories based on a passing game.
        3. Lead the Hawks to a 10 win season.
        4. Be consistent – in a good way.

    • peter

      I actually probably because I’m a glass half full guy, think the Seahawks project out higher then 9 wins. I think the Defense basically has to get pressure to the QB and you have a top five unit. That and good luck on the injury front was enough to propel San Fran to 13-3. The seahawks play the the AFC east, who honestly do not have a team besides the patriots(duh) that are consistent. The NFC north….I guess Green bay, Detroit puts up the points but can’t stop anyone from doing the same. Who knows with Chicago and Minnesota. Carolina…trending up? probably. A bit one dimensional (cam newton) definitely. Dallas…I suppose they can be good even great at times….I’d just like to see them be the best team in their division sometime…..and of course the NFC West. Again San Fran, had some amazing luck in the injury department, which always helps…But the team I think could really be trending up (besides us!) is Arizona….Point being….Seahawks could go 5-11, or the perennial “9-7” not really going out on a limb pick that we all make, but if the defense really turns that last corner and the their isn’t any excuses abut QB play this year, I could see it being a slight bit better then 9-7.

      We had bad luck with the Oline WR last year and that didn’t stop us from being a wild card contender until the second to last week… me it’ll take way more then last year’s patchwork oline play and patchwork-ish WR play to put us at 5-11….like Lynch/Turbin/Baldwin/ET/Sherman all spend significant time out.

      • AlaskaHawk

        We have done a lot to improve our defensive line and linebacking corp with the draft. We should have an awesome defense this year.

        We found a good RB that can take the work load with Marshawn. We have a potential QB in the draft, and of course our free agent QB. One of them should step in. Offensive line – we are mostly hoping that our starters will heal and be injury free. A few draft picks but nothing to exciting in that area.

        Wide receivers, everyone says we got lots of potential. From my view we got 2 and a half men, heh heh. With a QB that can throw the ball we will sort through WR at a fast pace, and know which ones we want to keep by end of year.

        In Summary we got a great defense that I hope will be considered elite.
        We have a good running game, and out passing game is a work in progress.

        For our other NFC West teams, I agree that San Fran was lucky not to have major injuries, and their tight end Vernon Davis was phenominal. Arizona needs a quarterback. St Louis has a lot of new players but can the coach make them into a team? I would say San Fran is still our biggest rival.

        • peter

          True San Fran stays on top until someone knocks them down. And Vernon Davis and that defense are remarkable. With Arizona, we’ll get two chances to see if Floyd is the real deal. St. Louis…sheesh…I want them to be good in the way that the whole division is good to great. So espn, et al. have to waste precious air time talking about our cruddy little division. I’m not sold on Jeff Fischer or really any unit on that team.

          And I totally agree with you that better QB play will showcase what we have in regards to WR’s.

          • AlaskaHawk

            I was advocating picking Floyd leading up to the draft – so naturally I am intrigued by him. If the Hawks had Floyd and Fitzgerald in our receiver corp we would be deadly and be favored to win the division.

            St Louis – I don’t know how a team can get so bad. I have to think it is coaching and general manager both screwing it up!

  9. A. Simmons

    Not a real big fan of USC QBs. They don’t have a good track record of succeeding in the NFL.

    • Rob Staton

      They don’t… but that also doesn’t rule out the next one being a future Hall of Famer.

      • A. Simmons

        True enough. Carson Palmer looked like he was on his way until the Steelers shredded his knee. For me I’m going to back just about anyone in a Seattle uniform trying to play the QB position until they prove they can’t do it. I even hope for the best with Tarvaris if he wins the starting position though I loath the idea of us not having a candidate on the team capable of beating out Tarvaris. I’d roll with Barkley if we drafted him. I hope one of our current guys does well enough that QB isn’t a priority next year.

    • Attyla the Hawk

      Considering how few QBs actually develop into quality starters, this shouldn’t be surprising. The position is so mercurial in how one prospect develops into something good even really shouldn’t be that big of an indicator.

      Can anyone look at any program and say they have a good track record? I mean SC does currently have 3 starting QBs in the NFL. Not all of them elite QB quality. How many other programs can boast that? None that I can think of.

      • James

        The NFL teams seem to consistently over-value physical make-up and arm strength, and under-value leadership, demeanor, decision-making and accuracy. I would imagine the passing efficiency ratings would tell you a lot more than the combine results, in terms of projecting NFL success. And last season Mr Wilson had the highest QB passing efficiency rating in the history of football, college or pro. The efficiency rating does not deduct for height, and until the NFL begins to take a point off a touchdown score for each inch under 6-2, I will go with production on the field as the measurable.

        • Attyla the Hawk

          I don’t see that at all.

          Like almost every prospect at any position, physical iimitations simply serve to exclude possible matchups to exploit. If you have a weak arm, then that excludes certain plays from the playbook. It means defenses can cheat because you won’t throw there. It has a cascading negative impact if a player cannot force teams to honor the entire field.

          The NFL is today largely dependent on creating matchups in your favor. The more tools you have at your disposal to threaten other teams, the easier all plays are for the offense. If you are mobile and can run well, then teams have to cheat with a ‘spy’ LB or some other means to account for the QB taking off. That creates mismatches a QB can exploit.

          So yes, physical attributes are very very important. But they aren’t everything. Every draft, lots of QBs are selected that have somewhat lesser gifts. They are picked, right where other players at other positions that also possess lesser gifts.

          It’s absurd to try and quantify what Wilson would do if he were 5 inches taller. The main point is, if Wilson is more productive than a guy 5″ taller, then he’s quantifiably a better QB. But his height will result in negative plays that he wouldn’t suffer if he were taller. Whatever potential his gifts would allow, his height will deduct from that. The NFL is so often a game of inches and Wilson is giving up a lot of them.

          Ultimately, it’ll be the total body of work that will determine if he plays or not. If despite those liabilities, he is still better than a taller QB with lesser abilities elsewhere — then it won’t matter. It’s just that there usually isn’t such a disparity in other gifts that translate to greatly better productivity. The mental aspect of quarterbacking is simply essential. I’d say it’s the single greatest determinant to whether a QB is successful. From there, other aspects can serve to erode or support that potential.

          Wilson has a very strong arm. A very accurate arm. And not accurate in a Jimmy Clausen sense. Wilson’s accuracy was severely tested by difficult, high risk/reward throws. He achieved his accuracy the very hard way.

          I don’t think teams over value superficial aspects of QBs. But I do believe most teams are risk averse. This league is a copy cat league for a reason. Because many people in it are acutely attuned to ‘not failing’. There are very few trailblazers who are willing to invest in ‘the next thing’. We don’t have that issue at all.

  10. Donald

    Because of injury, I see the OL still being a weak link. I think Okung is over rated, especially if he is constently injured. The right side of he line is still a question mark because of injury as well. They were ranked as the 3rd worst in the league in sacks allowed.

    The wide receiver group is good, and will surprise people. Tuinei is very good, as is Durham.

    QB is a wait and see.

    • Colin

      And you don’t think the QB was responsible at all for some of those sacks?

      • AlaskaHawk

        TJ should have thrown the ball away quicker. He would hold on and try to make a play. So part of the blame goes to TJ for holding onto the ball, part to receivers for not getting open, and part to a crappy line that couldn’t provide pass protection.

        The end result would have been a play with no gain instead of a loss. Not really much of an improvement but every yard counts!

    • Doug

      This is a good example of why we are all armchair coaches. We all see different things.
      I don’t see the OL as weak at all. We got rid of the weakest link in Gallery. Okung is a beast (when healthy – here I agree) Breno G is solid. Deuce will be a serious addition, Unger has turned into a great starter, McQ has been great.

      I agree the WR’s will be surprisingly good, especially with a QB that doesn’t suck.

    • Attyla the Hawk

      This year will be interesting.

      Recall, that 2 years ago, Alex Gibbs was here to firmly establish the zone scheme. We had finally decided to cut bait on the man blockers we attempted to convert to a zone scheme under Solari. What did Gibbs say at the time?

      “It takes about 2 years in the system to become functional at it”.

      That was the beginning of 2010. And that year was a very tough year on the OL. Just as Gibbs had predicted. Even if he wasn’t still here.

      We invested heavily in the OL in 2011. Literally, at the start of the offseason we had one player (Okung) that looks like he’d still be with the team. We had 4 gaping holes.

      Max Unger was terrible in 2009. Didn’t play at all in 2010. Then after 2 years in the system — Boom! He looks nothing like the guy we saw fumbling about.

      Strangely, the entire OL unit just seemed to magically get it after one season and change. Pretty much as Gibbs has predicted. And that’s generally a reality that other ZBS disciples concede. It simply takes time. But once that time is paid, you can plow in prospects year after year late in drafts and they can be quality interchangeable parts down the road.

      We are just now in a position to reap the benefits of having paid our dues implementing this system. Our depth has shown to be amazingly productive, if predictable by ZBS adherents. The system doesn’t require massive draft or free agent investments to be productive. Obviously talent still helps a ton. But the system is designed to require coordination more than talent to execute.

      It’s why we can take guys like a JR Sweezy as a project and be excited/intrigued by it. A no name afterthought of a prospect who in a year or two’s time begins producing like a day one or two pick.

      It’s also worth noting, that we could be just a tad ruined in our expectations of what is needed on the OL. Our perceptions of what makes an acceptable OL is colored by Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. Two freaks of talent and should both be HOF inductees.

      The ZBS system doesn’t need that kind of talent. But the natural byproduct of not having headline pro bowl talent — is that the quality always seems questionable. The scheme makes players much more anonymous. Like it’s done with smoke and mirrors.

      Seattle was statistically a decent running team. This despite the fact that overall our offense was bad, we enjoyed fewer snaps than our opponents, and generally were not in a position to protect many leads. How much better could we have been if we extend just 3 possessions a game by better QB play to convert 3rd downs? Or if we weren’t always losing, or playing like we would soon be?

      I think there are a lot of reasons to think this team will run the ball much better this season. The success we had after committing to it in earnest should improve it. The increased experience should improve it. The expectation that we won’t be giving up plays because our ability to extend series is nonexistent should help it. The fact that our defense should be able to get off the field, providing one or 2 more possessions per game should help it. Just a whole slew of reasons all point to a much better year this season. And not ALL of them have to come to pass for it to happen.

    • A. Simmons

      I stopped reading after the “Okung is over-rated comment”. He handled Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeny alone. Who is over-rated compared to? Walter Jones? That would 99% of the league is over-rated. We’re one of the few teams where any LT we draft will be judged by that Hall of Fame barometer. Most teams barely notice the LT. The only reason we notice Okung is because of his injuries. As far as his play, he’s barely noticed because he quietly dominates when on the field.

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