|Everything about Brock Osweiler is big -- height (6-feet-8), arm ... and draft questions. (Getty Images)|
As I do the prep work for this year's draft, studying players, watching tape, talking to scouts, I come back to the same question:
Why did quarterback Matt Barkley decide to go back to school for his senior season at Southern California?
If he's in this draft, we have drama. Andrew Luck is considered the consensus No. 1 overall prospect and the quarterback from Stanford is almost certainly going to be the top pick.
But I ask this: What if Barkley was in this draft?
There might be some debate. There certainly would be debate about the second quarterback in the draft. As it is now, Baylor's Robert Griffin will surely be the second quarterback taken, which means the battle for the third spot is the pre-draft drama.
Is it Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill or Arizona State's Brock Osweiler ... or somebody else?
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All four quarterbacks I mentioned are in my list of the top 32 players -- hey, I like quarterbacks -- but it still seems something's missing without Barkley in this draft.
When he decided to go back to school, he took a lot of the draft-day buildup with him.
Here's my first top-32 list. As I do more work, as we go through the combine and the pro days, I will update it down the road.
There are some surprises here, but I like being rogue in my evaluations, which is why a tackling machine like Nebraska's Lavonte David is on my list while Alabama safety Mark Barron isn't.
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: Does he have flaws? Sure, they all do. But he understands the NFL passing game and his arm is plenty good enough.
2. Matt Kalil, T, USC: He is as solid a pick as there is in this draft. The pedigree for USC tackles is good, and he's the reason Tyron Smith played right tackle at USC.
3. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU: He is a smooth cover player who will be better than Patrick Peterson, his former teammate, on the next level.
4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor: He wasn't asked to do a lot at the line of scrimmage in college, but he is a smart kid who will have no problem picking up NFL offenses.
5. Riley Reiff, T, Iowa: Some have him rated ahead of Kalil, which is high praise. He is a good left tackle who I think will be better than Bryan Bulaga, a former Iowa player who starts at right tackle for the Packers.
6. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: He will be a big-play back on the next level. Some scouts think he's the second-best player in this draft.
7. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: I love his explosive ability. He isn't big, but the word is he will run under 4.4 in the 40. That's what teams crave now.
8. Michael Brockers, DT, LSU: He came to LSU as a 250-pound defensive end but grew into a force in the middle of the Tigers' defense. He still has some of that end quickness, which will help on the next level. At 6-feet-5 and 305 pounds, he has the frame to get even bigger.
9. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: He isn't as big as some think and there is concern about his speed. He just doesn't play fast.
10. Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina: I love this kid. He doesn't have prototypical size, but he is an athlete who has great quickness and speed. He can also play outside linebacker in a 3-4.
11. Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: He didn't play well in 2011, but the North Carolina situation was a mess. He did have a good Senior Bowl week.
12. David DeCastro, G, Stanford: He is as clean a prospect as there is in this draft. It's too bad guard isn't a high-value position in the draft.
13. Devon Still, DT, Penn State: He had some off-field troubles early in his career, but flashed star potential (see Florida game from 2010) when he did get on the field.
14. Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford: He is the type of tackle teams want now: Outstanding in pass protection. He isn't a mauler in the run game, but he's good enough. At 6-6, 305 pounds, he will get stronger on the next level to improve that.
15. Luke Kuechly, MLB, Boston College: He was a tackling machine at BC for his entire career. He will be a steady starter for a long time.
16. Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama: Put on his tapes from 2010 when he matched up with Julio Jones and A.J. Green when he was at Florida. He is a great cover player, but he does have character concerns.
17. Dre' Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama: He is a big corner at 6-2 who can also play some good man coverage. He is also a willing tackler in the run game. He did have a recent off-field issue that seems to have been cleared up.
18. Nick Perry, DE-OLB, USC: He led the Pac-12 as a junior with 9½ sacks. He is a speed rusher who played down end at USC, but could be asked to stand up for 3-4 teams.
19. Lamar Miller, RB, Miami: Heading into combine week, he might be the most undervalued player in the draft. He is an explosive runner.
20. Andre Branch, DE, Clemson: At 6-4, 265 pounds, he is a rush end or a standup outside linebacker. He has good burst off the edge and did a nice job after D'Quan Bowers left last year.
21. Courtney Upshaw, OLB-DE, Alabama: At 6-2, 273 pounds, he has a strange body for an outside linebacker. He was used mainly as an edge rusher at Alabama. Would seem to be a Lamar Woodley-type 3-4 rush player.
22. Mike Adams, T, Ohio State: He is a massive tackle at 6-7, 325 pounds. Some teams thought he might have to play right tackle, but he has the feet to play the left side. He does have some off-field issues.
23. Cordy Glenn, G-T, Georgia: He is a massive guard at 345 pounds, which is why I think he could end up as a right tackle. He played some left tackle in college, but his feet seem better for the right side. If he stays at guard, think Carl Nicks of the Saints.
24. Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: He's big and strong, but how fast is he? That will determine if he stays this high. He doesn't play as fast as one would want.
25. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska: He excels in man-press coverage, which is why his value is high. He didn't play as well last season as he did in 2010, but he has the tools to be a quality cover corner.
26. Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska: He isn't big at 225 pounds, but the way teams play linebackers now he has value. He is a tackling machine. He showed up every week. Think Derrick Brooks.
27. Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: With the success of pass-catching tight ends last season, you know teams will be looking for one. This kid has the chance to be the next great one. He averaged 19.1 per catch. He's the next Gronk.
28. Alameda Ta'amu, DT, Washington: He is a 340-pound force in the middle of the line. He will be a long-time starter in the NFL.
29. Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin: He was a three-year starter for the Badgers on a good line. He is physical at the point of attack in the run game and has improved in pass protection.
30. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: This former receiver has the size and arm you want in an NFL passer. He started only 19 games and the inconsistency showed at times. He is also battling back from a broken foot suffered during throwing drills in January.
31. Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State: He is 6-8, has a cannon for an arm and is raw as heck. He might turn out to be a big-time star. Was miscast some in ASU's offense since he didn't throw down the field as much as he should have.
32. Jared Crick, DE, Nebraska: He tore a pectoral muscle last season, but when he was on the field during his career he was a force. Reminds me of Justin Smith of San Francisco.