Barkley will learn from Sanchez experiences

INDIANAPOLIS -- Matt Barkley will be the first USC quarterback drafted since ... you guessed it, Mark Sanchez, the fifth overall pick in 2009.

Barkley and Sanchez never played together at USC, but they're texting buddies. Barkley, one of the most heavily scrutinized players at the scouting combine, said he's learned a lot about the NFL from watching Sanchez, who has experienced extreme highs and lows with the Jets.

"He got kind of thrown into the gauntlet in New York," Barkley said Friday. "It's kind of opened my eyes, seeing all these players go before me from USC and from other programs, and how they handled things -- the great things they did, things that, I'm sure the mistakes they've learned on, just like I've learned from my mistakes.

"I think seeing these veterans who've gone in front of me I've learned a lot how to handle the media, how to handle being in a big market like New York, how to handle that locker-room environment. It's taught me a lot."

Barkley was considered a top-10 prospect a year ago, but unlike Sanchez, he decided to return for his final year. His performance slipped last season, and now there's no guarantee that Barkley will be picked in the first round. That hasn't dampened his confidence. He still believes he's the best quarterback in the draft.

"I believe I am," he said. "I don’t think you can go into the draft not thinking you are. I definitely believe I am, yes sir."

This would be a fascinating scenario: What if Barkley still is on the board when the quarterback-needy Jets pick at No. 39? It's not out of the realm of possibility.