Draft Class Shocker: Matt Barkley To Return To USC

Matt Barkley looks comfortable at USC. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

This morning fans around the league woke up with their team being, 4-10 or 5-9 or 6-8 but at least having hope that a franchise QB might be on the way in 2012. Whether it was Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley or RG3, fans including myself found our excitement growing that one of the strongest QB classes would allow their team to find the next QB to lead their team to glory.

However, this afternoon Matt Barkley announced that he will come back to USC with a hope of winning a national championship, a Heisman trophy and potentially being the #1 player selected in 2013. This is a major blow for teams looking for a QB as many viewed Barkley as the second best QB talent in this year’s draft. Barkley’s left tackle Matt Kalil declared to the NFL draft and everyone assumed Barkley would follow. However he decided to shock the football world and leaves fans who are craving for a QB depressed.

The Dolphins, Redskins, and Browns fans around the nation got a really big blow to the stomach as it appears their team will have to go another direction in this year’s draft… or contemplate a big trade up.

There are also reports that Robert Griffin III and Landry Jones might also be staying back at college leaving the QB prospects for next year’s draft very thin. Tony Pauline for one has heard that both will stay in school. There has been plenty of talk of RG3 wanting a law degree, and he has been rumored to say that football is his second priority. Landry Jones was a top 10 pick before the season but his stock has seriously dropped after having a sluggish season; he might see staying another year as a better option than the Combine for raising his stock.

This is creates an automatic jump in the stocks of Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) and Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State). I think Weeden might actually be the best talent of all of these, however his age (28) brings up inevitable Chris Weinke comparisons. This might leave teams reaching for QB or we just won’t see the early QB picks that we might have if the other studs had come out.

For teams like the Rams and the Vikings, who are guaranteed of a top-3 pick, the phone lines will be wide open, especially if the Colts continue to play themselves out of the #1 pick. With fewer acceptable alternatives to Andrew Luck in the draft, QB-hungry teams will be squeezed for every point of draft value if they want to trade up.

If you are a Redskins, Browns or Dolphins fan (ME!) this was a very rough day for you.