Matt Barkley might have been the Washington Redskins' fallback plan last year had the Southern Cal quarterback left college early.
Whew -- dodged that bullet.
The Redskins continue to look smart for last year's trade that allowed them to acquire Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick. Meanwhile, Barkley's decision to remain for his senior year serves as a lesson to underclassmen that it may not be worth risking another season in college.
Had Barkley come out in 2012, Washington may have taken him with the sixth overall selection. With no trades, Andrew Luck was expected to go to Indianapolis, while Cleveland would have grabbed Griffin at No. 4. In that scenario, the Redskins would have been forced either to play Rex Grossman for another year and wait for what has turned into a mediocre class of passers or make Barkley the third quarterback chosen.
Barkley's decision to stay in school further convinced the Redskins to overspend for Griffin. Otherwise, Washington may not have surrendered three first- and a second-round pick to draft Griffin. Perhaps it would have saved those picks and taken Barkley.
The Redskins will never know, and fans are glad they don't. Washington selected the eventual NFL Rookie of the Year. Even if Griffin's currently rehabbing from knee surgery, it was the best move.
With Barkley or Grossman, the Redskins probably wouldn't have won even six games and would have been drafting in the top 10 again. Instead, their 22nd overall pick will be used by St. Louis on April 25. The Rams are likely to get a good prospect but no breakthrough player such as Griffin.
Barkley didn't work out at the NFL combine, though he was weighed and measured before talking to executives, coaches and media. Barkley's pro day March 27 will decide whether someone who might have been the third quarterback chosen last year is even a first-rounder this time.
That's a shame. The one guy who valued playing college ball over pro money is penalized after a shoulder injury and a 7-6 finish by the preseason No.?1 Trojans. Who knew that waving his sword at a news conference announcing he was staying one more season would be the highlight of the year?
Barkley's certainly a good quarterback despite a senior slump. He nearly had a Heisman Trophy season as a junior. As a four-year starter at Southern Cal, he's well prepared for the NFL, though the downside is there's not much more upside to develop.
"There's always something to prove, and I'm out to prove something," Barkley told reporters at the combine.
Funny, that's how Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o felt before his 4.82 time in the 40 on Monday probably ended his first-round hopes, too.