Ranking the nation's top 10 QBs
Matt Barkley holds the No. 1 spot in the season's first QB rankings
It's tough putting together a list of the top 10 collegiate quarterbacks, given how different schemes and quality of competition can be across conferences in college football. I considered two major questions in coming up with this ranking:
1.) How successful will this QB be on the field this season, both individually and in leading his team in the conference and national title races? (A passer's track record to this point in his college career played a big part in this.)
2.) Where does this QB stand in terms of realizing his dreams of playing in the NFL?
While the first point here should be pretty self-explanatory, I'll go into more detail for the second. This is by no means a pure pro prospect ranking, it's just that many of the skills that the NFL looks for in its quarterbacks are essential on the college level as well (that's why I reached out to some NFL personnel as I put together this list). For quarterbacks like the Michigan Wolverines' Denard Robinson and Kansas State Wildcats' Collin Klein, a couple of notable "snubs" from this list, their lack of elite throwing ability limits their offenses, despite their dynamic running skills.
That said, as the season progresses, this list (I'll be checking in with regular updates) will change based on the development, success and failure of both the QBs who made the preseason cut, and others who emerge. So don't be shocked if a future NFL receiver like Robinson or a talented player years away from his NFL shot like Braxton Miller enters the fold.
Here are my QB rankings heading into the 2012 season:
1. Matt Barkley, Senior, USC Trojans
Barkley is the unquestioned franchise quarterback of this group. He made improvements in the critical areas that Lane Kiffin challenged him in heading into last season: efficiency in the red zone and on third downs, and controlling his emotions in the big moments.
To read Brock Huard's full rankings of the top 10 quarterbacks in college football, you must be an ESPN Insider.