Ryan Kalil & Matt Barkley leaning towards draft?

I’d highly recommend making Tony Pauline’s ‘Draft Insider’ blog a regular feature of your daily reading. Not only does Tony provide accurate grades and opinions, he also has a lot of contacts offering insider info on what players, scouts and teams are thinking. This week he had a particularly interesting blog post which seems to suggest a possible exodus at USC at the end of the year:

“The west coast scouts have been incredibly impressed with USC tackle Matt Kalil thus far.  He’s been completely dominant in all aspects and the teams that have watched him say he’s a big time left tackle prospect.  In fact one of the best in recent years.  If he enters the draft, and early word is Kallil will make the move to the NFL, scouts say he’s a much better prospect than Tyron Smith and will be drafted earlier than his former teammate, who was chosen with the 10th selection by the Dallas Cowboys last April.” 

There’s a good chance many of Kallil’s underclassmen teammates will join him and make the leap to the next level in 2012.  Several sources have told us there’s tension in the USC locker room and the players are just not having a good time. Many of the top junior prospects have already begun the process of looking towards the 2012 NFL Draft.  In fact sources told us the players are having family and friends lay the foundation and do the research necessary.  In conversations over the past week with numerous insiders we’ve heard that quarterback Matt Barkley, safety T.J. McDonald, defensive end/outside linebacker Nick Perry and Devon Kennard are all seriously considering opting for the draft after the season.  We hear both Barclay and McDonald will leave if they receive first round grades in post season evaluations.”  

For a long time during the summer I was working under the assumption that Matt Barkley would not declare, there’s enough noise at the moment suggesting the opposite is a greater possibility. USC is Barkley’s team right now and staying for a fourth year would almost certainly come with legendary status at the school, particularly during a difficult few years. However, it’s almost like he’s been groomed from the start to become a NFL quarterback and provided with the opportunity to turn pro with a high grade, that could be just too tempting. This is what Pauline had to say about the Trojan’s quarterback, “Accurate quarterback prospect that has the ability to make most of the passes. Lacks classic pocket passer size but has enough ability to start the next level.” He was given a first round grade.

Pauline has been critical of another big name college quarterback – Oklahoma’s Landry Jones. I didn’t agree with the fourth round grade offered, but certainly I’ve said many times that based on 2010 tape I didn’t see a high first round pick. Even so, things can change and I’m looking forward to watching Jones for the first time this year against Florida State. In a league where Christian Ponder goes 12th overall, there’s every chance Jones will equally go higher than perhaps he should. Here’s what Pauline had to say in his latest post:

“We’ve taken heat from different sources for our initial evaluation on Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, and that’s fine.  Insiders we’ve spoken with say that while they rate him slightly higher than us, they concur Jones has done nothing yet to prove he’s the first round choice many have anointed him to be.  Surprisingly, or I should say surprising to us anyway, scouts are very high on Oklahoma State signal caller Brandon Weeden, though his age (28 years old next month) is a concern.  We liked what we saw from Weeden in spurts last year but were not as impressed after breaking down his game film.”

On Weeden, I generally agree. He’s got a level of maturity and execution that you’d expect from someone who has already played pro-sports and is approaching his 30’s. He’s a lot older and more experienced than most of the players he’s competing with and that has given him an edge. He’s not a spectacular prospect physically and he’s worked within a productive system that has made life easy for other quarterbacks in the past. It’s hard to imagine any team investing too much stock in a player who turns 29 during his rookie season and if Weeden was hearing the right kind of NFL noises in January, considering his age I don’t see why he would’ve returned to OKSU. Nevertheless, he’s still a fun player to watch and he may still get a shot at the next level.

Pauline has a more positive impression on Ryan Lindley, giving him a third round grade. When I saw him again TCU last year physically there were some pro’s, but he lacked polish and there were several technique issues. I graded him in the round 5-7 range.


  1. kevin mullen

    Where’s the 2012 top ten mock Rob??? haha…

    • Rob

      I can just about manage a top three…

      #1 Luck
      #2 Kalil
      #3 Barkley

      This draft more than any other I’ve covered so far has a lot of question marks, a lot of moving pieces that will change during the season and a lot of scope for people to come from nowhere and get a high grade. At the moment I have high first round grades on the three above only and tentative first round grades on another six guys. Over those six, two have a great chance of getting into the top ten – Coples and Richardson. I suspect Richardson won’t be a top-ten pick based on his position.

      • kevin mullen

        Wow! Kalil over Barkley??? How can the ‘Hawks justify that move? I kid…

        • Darnell

          Kalil over Barkley – easy, Hawks are going with Kalil as tackle eligible next to Carpenter as the base offense. Throw Gallery in the mix, bring Walt Jones back and championship.


    1. If we end up with around the 5th pick, to move up in the draft for luck would you give two first rounders and Okung for that pick?

    2. If we do have the 1st pick overall, would you trade the team with next pick for their 1st and next years first and draft Barkley, or just draft Luck?

    • Rob

      Good questions – the first I’m not sure you’d trade Okung because the whole idea is to build a team up, not keep pulling it apart even for one highly rated QB. I think it’ll be nearly impossible to trade up for Luck because whoever owns the #1 pick will almost certainly have a need at QB and therefore they will just take him. It’d take multiple first round picks to even warrant the conversation.

      In terms of trading the #1 pick, I think Seattle would need a blockbuster deal. Luck is hyped – rightly or wrongly – into some kind of super human QB. The stigma of passing on him for any pick could traumatise a franchise forever and ruin a reputation or even a career. For those reasons I doubt anyone passes on Luck for any trade – if you take Luck and he fails then everybody blames Luck and says he was over rated. If you pass and he becomes the great QB everyone expects, you better find someone even better at QB or else you look ridiculous.

  3. Chase

    My question is similar to the one above. If we end up with a 1st round pick somewhere in the 5-9 range, what would it take to get into the top 3 to draft one of the 2 top tier QBs?

    • Rob

      I think you’d need to know a teams willingness to move down. You’re more likely to need to be pro-active to get into the top three, so I’d guess at this early stage at needing to spend two first round picks.

  4. Erik


    I have had similar thoughts regarding the Seahawks options if they actually have the #1 pick. I think it could work out very similar to the 2004 draft where the Giants paid a premium to get Manning because they felt he was a sure thing given his pedigree. San Diego did very well in that trade which helped propel them to a winning franchise. I keep coming back to your analysis of the USC vrs Stanford game last year and the Barkley was the superior player that game. I think they are both great prospects but I think the roster is so depleted for elite talent that it’s worth the risk to select Luck, then trade Luck for a lower pick, select Barkley, and haul in another #1 at least. This is what SD did so successfully. Given our schedule I think this is more and more a possibility.

    • Rob

      It has to be said though Erik that Manning played a large role in that, forcing through a trade. I’m a big Barkley fan, but the stigma of passing on Luck even to acquire another first round pick could kill a franchise much more than Luck actually busting. If you pass on the chance to have Andrew Luck as your QB and he ends up having the kind of career people expect, it will be one of the greatest errors in NFL history. If you take Luck and he busts – he joins a long list of failed QB’s and nothing more.

      Of course I still don’t believe the Seahawks will be the owners of the #1 overall pick. Top five, sure. Top one? That takes a special kind of bad, and I’m not sure this Seattle team competing in this NFC West is going to be quite THAT bad.

  5. Darnell

    You could also though find a couple of teams in the top 5 that wouldn’t be looking to draft Luck or Barkley like maybe Carolina or St Louis (already in injury trouble). It would seem crazy but Buffalo or Cincy might be frugal enough to pass on the QBs and potentially give Dalton/Fitzpatrick a longer term shot and the Redskins look like midd of the road team right now. Kansas City may be our chief competition.

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