Recently, Washington Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said if he were running the team with the first-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, he'd take Southern Cal's Matt Barkley over Stanford's Andrew Luck.
Considering many folks would take Luck over even Cam Newton (!), this came as a bit of surprise. As it turns out, it's not Coach Sark ripping on Luck, it's him being really, really high on Barkley. How do I know this? Well, I listened to the always excellent Free Bruce podcast with my CBSSports.com colleagues Bryan Fischer and Bruce Feldman, featuring Sarkisian as a guest recently.
"Well, I want to start with this: One, this is by no means a knock on Andrew Luck. He's a tremendous quarterback, played at a high level, what he's done at Stanford and the accolades he's gotten he deserves mightily," Sarkisian told CBSSports.com. "What I do know about Matt Barkley is the system he plays in. I know him personally from the time of recruiting him since ninth grade on at modern-day high school.
And the way he's matured and played at the level he's playing at and the types of things he's been asked to do, for me and for our system and what I do, I would draft Matt Barkley. And again that's not a knock on Andrew Luck. I think he'll be the No. 1 pick in the draft. But for what we do, I think Matt fits a little bit better."
So there you have it -- Sark doesn't necessarily believe anyone else will take Luck over Barkley, and he doesn't think Luck won't be great, he just believes Barkley is an ideal quarterback for a pro-style offense.
Of course, most folks believe Luck will be perfect for a pro-style offense as well, so that might not be the most convincing argument.
Barkley's production (67 percent completions, 2,608 yards, 28 touchdowns, six interceptions) isn't that far off of Luck's production (71.3 percent completions, 2,424 yards, 26 touchdowns, five interceptions) this season, if it at all.
And as CBSSports.com's draft expert Rob Rang notes in his recent Big Board rankings, Barkley isn't exactly a slouch.
"Barkley is still a top-notch prospect in his own right," Rang writes. "In a typical draft he would be generating No. 1 overall buzz."
Of course, Rang also notes that his highest-rated player in 12 years of scouting professionally is Luck (ahead of Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson).
So maybe it's possible that Sarkisian is right, and both guys will be great.
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