USC quarterback Matt Barkley has a big decision to make on whether to come back for his senior season -- and a potential Trojans national title campaign -- but he is rapidly moving up NFL draft boards, if that's the direction he chooses to take.
ESPN NFL draft guru Todd McShay, once not much of a fan, has moved Barkley up to sixth on his draft board. He was 11th last week.
Writes McShay: "Barkley shined in an upset win at Oregon, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns. He is playing as well as any quarterback in the nation thanks in large part to impressive decision-making and poise in the pocket."
Mel Kiper uses his "Big Board" introduction to consider why some folks may have been down on Barkley before the season began.
From a scouting standpoint, there's also the problem of too much exposure. Think about USC junior quarterback Matt Barkley. He's made 35 college starts and is really starting to take off as a prospect. Yet you wonder how many people saw him early -- which could have been at least a dozen times before he'd turned 21 -- and formed a strong opinion. Barkley is still making plenty of mistakes and errant throws, and he's really just starting to take that next step in his growth. But the video piles up.
Earlier this year I dropped Barkley some on the Big Board, but he's since battled through some hiccups and has again shown that he didn't plateau. His growth goes beyond his numbers, where the improvement is clear. Barkley could return to USC next year, but his draft stock is rising.
Both Kiper and McShay still have Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck No. 1 overall with no reservations, even with Luck's recent statistical down-tick.
Luck is losing steam in the Heisman Trophy race, but he still has a stranglehold on the top spot on the draft board. His mental makeup and physical tools put him a cut above all other quarterback prospects in the 2012 class.
As for how they stack the elite Pac-12 prospects, it goes like this.
McShay: 1. Luck; 2. USC OT Matt Kalil; 6. Barkley; 8. Stanford OT Jonathan Martin; 15. Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict; 17. Stanford OG David DeCastro
Kiper: 1. Luck. 2. Kalil; 7. Barkley; 8. Martin; 15. Burfict