Why Matt Barkley is a first-rounder

Metrics argue for the USC quarterback to be a top selection in the NFL draft

Originally Published: April 25, 2013
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Matt Barkley Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)Matt Barkley threw for 3,273 yards, 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for USC last season.

Over the past two seasons, the NFL draft has given the league such an extraordinary amount of quarterback talent that it has set a high level of draft expectations for future field generals.

That is one reason why former USC Trojans passer Matt Barkley, who was once considered a slam dunk first-round pick, has seen his stock fall to the extent that he is no longer rated as a first-rounder in most mock drafts.

This decline is understandable at some level given that Barkley has a number of question marks surrounding his game. Yet when one takes a more detailed look at his situation, it becomes clear those issues are overblown. Barkley is a bona fide first-round-caliber pick.

Let's examine each of those question marks.

Question mark No. 1: Why wasn't Barkley as good in 2012 as he was in 2011?

Barkley did see a decline in his completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio over this time frame, yet a quick review of his metrics by route depth from each season shows that is a poor proxy for summarizing his performance.