INDIANAPOLIS -- In terms of guys who saw their stock dip based on returning to school for an extra year, few people saw a more precipitous fall than USC quarterback Matt Barkley.
At one point last year, he was considered along similar lines as Andrew Luck/Robert Griffin III and viewed as a lock for the top pick in this year's draft. Now, it wouldn't even be a mild upset if he fell out of the first round. But Barkley said Friday at the 2013 NFL Combine that he has "no regrets" about returning to USC.
"No. No regrets that I came back last year," Barkley said. "Haven't looked back once. Wouldn't change my USC career for anything."
Part of the issue for Barkley over the last year is people have really started to pick apart his game. And there's a contention among some people that Barkley doesn't have the arm to make all the throws at the NFL level, a notion that he disagreed with on Friday.
"I would disagree. Look at the tape. Watch the tape," Barkley said. "I'm not going to go through certain throws, but you can watch the tape where I've made throws in tight windows. I can make every NFL throw that you need. So I would disagree."
Barkley also made some waves by pointing out that "you can't get better every year." It's a horrible quote, but it's also out of context -- he was actually making a fair point that you literally cannot improve your passing stats every single season.
"Every year is not going to be the same. Think about it: You can't get better every single year," Barkley said. "It's physically impossible to throw for more yards and more yards and more yards every year. There's going to be some years when it just doesn't click and things don't go as planned. This was just one of those years."
Unfortunately for Barkley, it was the type of year that sunk his stock to a stunningly low level and wrecked what many people thought would be a huge season for the Trojans.
Barkley's also dealing with a shoulder injury -- he confirmed Friday that he suffered a separated shoulder against UCLA -- and won't be doing any combine drills as a result.
The good news, though, is that Barkley shone on the podium on Friday. It's still entirely possible that a quarterback-needy team takes a gamble on him in the first round (the Raiders, Chiefs, Bills and Cardinals), but the reality is it's going to be tough for Barkley to answer the questions that face him as an NFL prospect without being able to throw.
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