Tag:Matt Barkley
Posted on: January 14, 2012 10:22 pm
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Darron Thomas stuns Ducks, leaving early for NFL

If the Oregon Ducks are going to successfully defend their Pac-12 crown next season they'll be doing so with a new starting backfield.

It had been expected that head coach Chip Kelly would lose LaMichael James to the NFL after this season. But Saturday night, junior quarterback Darron Thomas stunned the program with the decision to also forgo his final season of eligibility and head off to the pros.

Thomas, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 12 rated quarterback in the 2013 class, may be making a terrible decision.

The 6-3, 215 pound Thomas has put up impressive statistics in Kelly's offense. Last season he completed 62% of his passes for 2,761 yards and a sparkling touchdown to interception ratio of 33-7. Considering that Thomas also ran for 206 yards and three scores, he was among the most effective all-purpose quarterbacks in the country and played a critical role in Oregon's run to the Rose Bowl championship and No. 4 ranking. He also boasts one of the more impressive career accomplishments any college quarterback can hope to have -- having thrown for at least one touchdown in every one of his career starts (27). In 31 games over his career Thomas passed for 5,910 yards, 66 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions.

That said, Thomas on tape doesn't necessarily match his hype.

Thomas' prodution is inflated due to Oregon's aggressive scheme and explosive athletes. He averaged 8.14 yards gained each time he even attempted a pass in 2011. He flashes good touch down the seams and enough zip to complete crossing routes over the middle, he isn't the elite passer his statistics would suggest. Too many of his passes forced receivers to adjust their routes, limiting opportunities for even bigger plays. Furthermore, he did not show much improvement in his second season as a starter despite playing in a relatively simple offense.

Kelly offered a luke warm opinion on Thomas' decision.
“As in all cases, we educate our players with the information we feel will be beneficial to them throughout the process but ultimately, the decision is left up to the players,” Kelly said. “I will always support Darron in his decision and want to thank him for everything he has done for this program. He obviously has played a major role in elevating Oregon football to new heights and I wish him well in the future.”

Thomas has talent but is viewed by scouts as a significant project. That fact could push him into late portions of the draft (or worse), especially considering that he comes with off-field baggage. Remember, Thomas was the passenger with former Duck cornerback Cliff Harris on the night Harris was pulled over for speeding in a car rented by a Oregon employee. Harris was clocked at 118 miles per hour, was driving without a license and admitted to police he had been smoking marijuana. Thomas' reaction to questions from the media regarding his role in the incident falls a bit short of inspirational. 

Thomas is the second Pac-12 quarterback to attempt to fill the vacancy left when Matt Barkley made his decision to return Southern Cal. He joins Andrew Luck and Arizona State's Brock Osweiler as early entries from the conference.
Posted on: January 13, 2012 6:16 pm
 

Wilson returning to Ark despite positive feedback

While the two "other" SEC teams that finished among the AP Poll's top five lost a combined seven underclassmen to the NFL, the Arkansas Razorbacks didn't appear to lose any.

That fact was in contention until Friday when junior quarterback Tyler Wilson announced via a press release distributed by the school that he is returning for his senior campaign.

“I have decided to stay at Arkansas for the 2012 season because I am extremely excited for what this team has the opportunity to accomplish and to finish earning my degree," said Wilson in the release. "After the feedback I received, the decision was difficult to make. Ultimately, the chance to complete my academics and play one more season as a Razorback were compelling reasons for me to remain in Fayetteville. This past year was great for us with 11 wins and a top-five finish and we want to build on that. The group of players we have returning has high expectations and wants to work hard to compete for championships. Although my goal is to play in the NFL, I believe I can benefit greatly from another year of working with Coach (Bobby) Petrino and Coach Paul Petrino. I am excited to be able to spend one more season at a university where the leadership shows a tremendous amount of support and the passion of the fans is the best in the country.”

There had been considerable buzz in the scouting community that Wilson strongly considered making the jump after receiving positive feedback from the NFL Advisory Committee. Though Wilson did not share what grade he received, it isn't difficult to understand why scouts would have been high on him.

Wilson led the SEC with 3,638 passing yards and threw 21 touchdowns against just six interceptions. Listed by Arkansas at 6-3, 220 pounds and possessing a nice combination of mobility, arm strength and accuracy, the redshirt junior is ranked fifth on NFLDraftScout.com's rankings of 2013 quarterbacks. Ranking fifth might seem like a slight to some but considering that Wilson has only one full season as the starter and is playing in an offense known to inflate quarterback production it is difficult to argue that he should be ranked ahead of Southern Cal's Matt Barkley, Oklahoma's Landry Jones or Florida State's E.J. Manuel -- each of whom possess either more impressive physical skills, greater experience or both.

Wilson is making the right choice in returning to the Razorbacks for his senior season. Not only does his return put Arkansas in position for a BCS title run next season, he's likely to boost his own stock in the eyes of scouts, as well. 

Posted on: December 23, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:45 pm
 

Video of Matt Barkley's press conference


Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley announced Thursday that he will be returning for his senior season.

Below is a video of his announcement, complete with USC cheerleaders and members of the marching band trumpeting his decision.



Barkley's decision, coupled with the other returning players they have, would appear to put USC back into the national title conversation for 2012. It also sets him up for a run at the Heisman Trophy and perhaps the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

As my colleague Mike Freeman points out, however, Barkley's decision is a risky one. One scout Freeman spoke to, in fact, called the move a "foolish business decision." From my perspective, having a strong understanding of the quarterback talent thought likely to be returning to school with Barkley, it certainly sets up for an exciting battle between the USC quarterback, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Florida State's E.J. Manuel, among others, for to be the top senior rated passer heading into the 2011-12 season... assuming, of course, that they do decide to return, after all.

While scouts love the 6-2, 220 pound Barkley's readiness for the NFL, there is no denying that the strong arms and size of the 6-4, 230 pound Jones and 6-4, 245 pound Manuel are more physically impressive.




Posted on: December 21, 2011 8:06 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:46 pm
 

T.J. McDonald returning to USC for senior season

The Trojans may have lost offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry early to the NFL, but they can take solace in the fact that junior free safety T.J. McDonald will be returning for his senior campaign.

McDonald, the son of former Southern Cal All-American and San Francisco 49er Tim McDonald, announced via an interview at  USCTrojans.com the news Wednesday afternoon.

The video, which can be seen below and by following this link, as well, shows McDonald in full USC regalia answering various questions about his decision, the role his father and head coach Lane Kiffin played in the decision and what, if any, impact T.J.'s choice may have on Southern Cal's other prominent junior known to be considering making the NFL leap, junior quarterback Matt Barkley.

McDonald cites both team and personal goals as seasons why he made the choice to return. The potential to play in a bowl game as well as match his father's All-American pedigree, compete for the Thorpe Award and get his degree are specifically mentioned.

Though McDonald is rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 free safety potentially available for the 2012 draft, the decision is a sound one. McDonald, who like former USC standout Taylor Mays, is at his best driving downhill towards the line of scrimmage, would be challenging a relatively strong class of senior safeties and is likely to enter next year as the elite prospect at his position.

McDonald finished 2011 with 67 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss. The 6-2, 205 pound junior led the team with three interceptions and also blocked a kick and recovered a fumble in earning First Team All-Pac-12 honors this season.







Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:45 am
 

Polian's statement points to Colts taking QB

In a five paragraph statement made to the press shortly following Indianapolis' first win of the season, Colts' vice chairman Bill Polian announced that four-time league MVP Peyton Manning has begun throwing passes to teammates but that there is "no chance" that he will play this season.

"It was determined by the doctors that there was no chance he (Manning) would play this year," Polian said, alluding to a meeting that took place on Thursday. "His rehabilitation has not come far enough to make it prudent for him to step on the field in game action. He may practice in some very scripted and circumscribed circumstances if he wishes. That's entirely up to him."

Perhaps it is just me, but the last sentence in the quote above I found to be particularly interesting.

"That's entirely up to him" is the kind of thing one parent might say to another about a child about to make a foolhardy decision. It reeks of washing one's hands of a decision so that if something bad were to happen fault couldn't be spread.

It sounds like the words of a man who has already made up his mind with what he's doing with the first pick of the draft.

Having spoken with scouts specifically about the Colts and their 35-year old quarterback, the writing has been on the way for months. The Colts recognize the unique talent expected to be available and do not appear likely to be willing to mortgage their future at the game's most important position just to acknowledge what Manning has done for them in the past.

The real question could turn out to be which quarterback the Colts would prefer.

The overwhelming consensus, of course, is that the Colts would take Andrew Luck. As I noted here, however, there is growing sentiment that the higher upside of Robert Griffin III could convince some teams that he's the player who should be taken first.

If running a team needing a quarterback to step in and play immediately, it would seem Luck would be the slam dunk choice. Southern Cal's Matt Barkley, should he also decide to leave school early, is also especially ready for the leap to the NFL due to his experience in a pro-style offense.

If the Colts see enough in Manning's post practice workouts to convince them that he is on schedule to return to his MVP-caliber play, Griffin might sneak up on Luck. He, after all, is expected to need some time to acclimate to the NFL after having earned his Heisman trophy in a spread offense.

But, of course, Polian isn't tipping his hand on which college quarterback he likes best.

That won't come until a press conference scheduled four months from now.


Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:47 pm
 

Miami loses two more to NFL

A couple of weeks ago I predicted that the first underclassment to declare early for the NFL draft might come from Miami and Southern California. This was not only because of the fact that both programs are consistent producers of talent but also because neither was going to be playing in a bowl game this year.

I anticipated a few 'Canes and Trojans might leave early. Instead, it is quickly proving to be a case of mass exodus from both programs -- which continued on Friday with the news that offensive tackle Brandon Washington and defensive end Olivier Vernon were leaving Miami for the NFL.

They join redshirt sophomore running back Lamar Miller, wide receiver Tommy Streeter and defensive tackle Marcus Forston in former 'Canes leaving Al Golden's program for the NFL since the end of the season.

Southern Cal, likewise has already seen two prospects leave early -- offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry. Quarterback Matt Barkley and safety T.J. McDonald are also known to be strongly considering making the leap.

Of the two newest underclassmen leaving Coral Gables, Washington is the more highly regarded pro prospect. The 6-4, 320 pound Washington has starred for the Hurricanes at left tackle and left guard. Though he played well outside at tackle this season, most project him back inside at guard in the NFL. Washington has a short, stock build. He is surprisingly light on his feet and plays with intensity and physicality. The feeling among scouts is that Washington could play outside at the next level, but he could become a Pro Bowl caliber guard.

Washington had previously told members of the media that he was returning to school, explaining that he had not even petitioned the NFL for a grade, was excited about the progress Miami was making and was committed to earning the college degree that no one else in his family had previously attained.

The lure of NFL dollars, however, must have proven too much for Washington. He is currently behind only Stanford's David DeCastro (who also is leaving school early) among NFLDraftScout.com's 2013 guard prospects.

Vernon is a very surprising choice to leave early considering that he was suspended for the first six games of the season due to taking accepting innappropriate benefits from a booster and registered just 18 tackles on the season. The 6-3, 265 pound true junior had flashed earlier in his career, recording 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks a year ago. Vernon has an explosive burst off the snap but still needs a lot of technical work to earn consistent playing time at the pro level. He is viewed as a prospect potentially capable of making the switch to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme, which does help his cause.

At this early point, however, Vernon is only ranked 29th among defensive ends in the 2013 class and thus not even a surely draftable commodity.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:13 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:48 pm
 

Kalil confirms he's off to NFL. Is Barkley next?

As it turns out, Matt Kalil is heading off to the NFL early, after all.

Beginning with a tweet from ESPN's Chris Mortensen and later confirmed by direct quotes from Kalil to the Los Angeles Times, Kalil erased any doubt about his future intentions.

The AP All-American told Gary Klein of the Times that "It was definitely a tough decision because I love SC. But, it's a special opportunity. It's time to move on."

It had been widely presumed that Kalil -- rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a potential top ten pick since September -- would strongly consider making the leap. He'd proven himself in two starting seasons as the Trojans' left tackle, keeping the Dallas Cowboys' 2010 first round pick Tyron Smith on the right side and earning comparisons to the great Tony Boselli along the way.

As such, when I heard rumbling a week ago that Kalil was "set to return" to USC I was as surprised as anyone. Upon hearing news of Kalil's confirmed intent to file early for the draft, I contacted my source again.

"I am surprised he is coming out," the source said, "especially with so much time before [the January 15] deadline. The impression I had was that [Kalil's] decision was going to take into account strongly whatever the quarterback decided to do. It almost seemed like the quarterback was looking for an excuse to come back. He loves it there. So, there was talk that he might come back and in doing so convince Kalil to do the same. The fact that [USC] would be past the bowl ban next year was a pretty big motivator for some of the guys."

Lane Kiffin's bunch is talented enough to once again be a primetime player in the Pac-12 conference even without their latest Morris Trophy winner, but with the offensive tackle and defensive end Nick Perry both leaving the Trojans early for the NFL, it will certainly be made more difficult.

It also puts the spotlight directly on quarterback Matt Barkley, who hasn't yet made a formal decision about his intentions.

Posted on: December 15, 2011 5:14 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:48 pm
 

To surprise of no one, USC DE Perry heads to NFL

'Tis the season for underclassmen to leave college early for a chance at the NFL.

While NFL teams will certainly be pleased with the pass-rushing "present" they're set to receive from Southern California, they certaintly won't be surprised by the gift. It has been common knowledge for quite some time that junior defensive end Nick Perry would be parlaying his breakout 2011 season into a shot at NFL millions. 

Last week I had a source tell me that another Trojan, junior left tackle Matt Kalil, was "set to return" to USC. Since, Kalil has told reporters that he hasn't made an official decision. I've had numerous other sources tell me since my initial report that Kalil is almost certainly going to leave school early, as many had originally assumed he would. Kalil, after all, is considered by most to be the elite offensive tackle potentially available for the 2012 draft and thus, a likely top ten pick. Not many players are willing to forfeit such an opportunity. 

Similarly, I've heard that USC quarterback Matt Barkley is also carefully weighing his options. Like his blindside protector, Kalil, Barkley looks the part of a top ten pick. Therefore, some would consider him foolish to even consider returning for his senior season and risking injury or poor play that could send his stock crashing. Barkley and Kalil, however, each seem very happy at USC and may relish the opportunity to help take USC back to bowl game next year, as the university's bowl ban ends after this season. 

It had been well known in scouting circles, however, that Perry had been actively shopping for agents since December 1, when agents abiding by NCAA rules could contact underclassmen. Perry, sources tell me, has signed with the firm Lock, Metz and Malinovic. LMM&P represents Tyron Smith, whom the Dallas Cowboys selected ninth overall in April, a former teammate of Perry's at USC.  

Many believe that the the 6-3, 255 pound Perry is ultimately likely to be rewarded for his decision with a first round draft pick. Perry emerged as a First Team All-Pac-12 player this season, leading the Trojans in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (13) as well as leading the team's defensive linemen with 54 stops.  Perry is a good football player but a great athlete. As such, many feel that he is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. Perry's upside, therefore, could lead to a rapid rise up the board. 

Perry is currently the No. 25 player on my Big Board. He's going even higher on my current mock draft, however.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com