Now that Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix has promised to address the quarterback of the future, who are the best guys that will be available in next April’s draft?
We posed that question to Rob Rang from NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com during Tuesday’s show. First off, Rang said at this point there does not appear to be an Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III in the Class of 2013, perhaps not even a Ryan Tannehill.
But Rang believes there are quarterbacks who can play and win in the NFL even if they aren’t good enough to start immediately. In his latest mock draft, Rang has the Bills selecting Matt Barkley from the University of Southern California.
“The biggest knock on Matt Barkley is that he doesn’t have the elite physical size and arm strength that you’re looking for from a quarterback that typically is going to wind up being a top ten pick” Rang said.
“I do not necessarily believe he’s going to come in and wind up being one of those great Pro Bowl quarterbacks that can be the face of the franchise for a decade or more but I do believe he can come in and be a successful quarterback.”
A four year starter for the Trojans, the 6’2”, 230 pound Barkley is on pace to throw the most interceptions in his career(he’s thrown 13 INT’s and his career high is 14 from his freshman season) but Rang says that is due in part to the graduation of his blind side pass protector in left tackle Matt Kallil, who was drafted by Minnesota in the first round last April. Rang said Barkley is making more aggressive throws he wouldn’t have made in the past.
Barkley’s stock may have dropped in the eyes of many talent evaluators this season but Rang was impressed with what he saw from Barkley when USC played its toughest opponent on the schedule, Oregon.
“I saw Matt Barkley step up and make some big time throws that an NFL quarterback has to be able to make” Rang told WGR. “Plays where he had to adjust after the snap, where he was confused initially or his receivers didn’t make the correct adjustment and he was forced to do that.”
Rang believes Barkley shows the most poise and is the safest pick in the quarterback class. He added Barkley is a perfect fit for the offense the Bills are currently running but if there’s a coaching change, Barkley’s pro style experience from college will allow him to adjust to a different offense and contribute significantly early in his NFL career.
In addition to Barkley, Rang has a round one projected grade for West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Tyler Wilson from Arkansas, although Wilson’s concussion issues could be an issue. As for Smith, he came roaring out of the gate this season and the Mountaineers opened up 5-0 but his numbers have dropped during the current four game losing streak.
Smith’s completion rate is 71% for the season but only 59% during the skid. He had not been intercepted at all in the 5-0 start but has now been picked off 3 times in the 4 losses. “In the college offense he’s using, it is very much a spread option offense that is not going to ask him to make the types of decisions with the ball post snap that he will have to against NFL schemes” Rang said of Smith. “ That’s one of the big knocks against him that while he does have the arm strength and the athleticism he is going to be a work in progress.”
You can listen to the entire interview with Rob Rang and find out what he thinks of Kansas State’s Colin Klein and hear which quarterbacks he thinks are rising up the draft charts and could be a good option in rounds two or three.