USC quarterback Matt Barkley's decision last December to return for his senior season immediately created speculation that he'd be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Nine months and a demoralizing loss to Stanford later, Barkley is no longer perceived as the best player in the country by Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay and ESPN's Mel Kiper. How far of a slide Barkley takes over the next few weeks is still a mystery, but a scenario in which he isn't the top pick in the 2013 draft is a pretty big deal.Of the two rankings on ESPN, McShay's Scouts-based post is the more ridiculous, ranking Barkley fourth overall behind Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (understandable, as his game is very reminiscent of Von Miller's), Alabama guard Chance Warmack (why a guard is this high on a list of stud pass-rushers, receivers, defensive backs and Manti Te'o is absolutely beyond me) and LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo (not my favorite pass-rusher in this class, but certainly a top three talent).
I never thought Barkley was the top overall talent in this class, and I still don't. Nevertheless, ranking him behind an SEC guard is a flat-out kick to the groin. I've seen Warmack play. He's really good. He shouldn't be anywhere within the top 10 picks on either list. And I thought the Dolphins were absolutely justified in nabbing Mike Pouncey with the No. 15 pick last year. So, there.
Kiper's adjustment of Barkley's stock is a bit more rational, as the Trojan slipped just one spot on the Big Board (Kiper also has Jones ranked No.1). I don't care much for Barkley, and a big reason is because I think Ryan Tannehill is essentially a supercharged version of the USC quarterback. Barkley is smart, accurate and boasts nifty footwork for the position, but he lacks mobility and the arm strength necessary to drive the ball downfield. Tannehill is smart, accurate, boasts sound footwork, displays a deft grasp of pro-style offensive concepts, possesses excellent speed for the position and has exceptional arm strength.
If not for Tannehill coming to Miami, I'd be drooling like Pavlov's dogs at the mere thought of Barkley as a Dolphin. Tannehill, however, is in Miami, and so my opinion of Barkley is pretty much meh. He's a strong quarterback prospect, but I think I prefer West Virginia's Geno Smith at this point
I am also in agreement with these fools that Jones is currently the best player in the country right now. He's a vicious outside linebacker prospect with prototypical speed and instincts for the position, and he should only get better. He'd also look pretty good in a hybrid defense (amiright!?).