Barkley heads back to USC


Draft analysts expected USC’s Matt Barkley to be a top-10 pick had he elected to enter the NFL draft after throwing for more than 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns. (Jae Hong/Associated Press)
December 22, 2011

Things got a bit tougher for the Washington Redskins and other quarterback-needy NFL teams when Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley announced Thursday that he would return to the school for another season rather than entering the draft in April.

Barkley’s decision to remain at USC for his senior season thins the class of quarterbacks available in the NFL draft after Stanford’s Andrew Luck, the likely top overall selection.

Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, has not announced whether he will enter the draft or return to Baylor for another season. Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones has not announced a draft decision either.

NFL teams such as the Miami Dolphins and Redskins now find themselves hoping that Griffin is available when they pick or contemplating possible trades to move up in the first-round to be in position to draft him. Otherwise, they might have to decide whether they believe Jones is worth a high first-round pick.

“Other guys get pushed up now,” said Charley Casserly, the former general manager of the Redskins and Houston Texans. “It’s just like last year, where guys got pushed up and you saw a bunch of quarterbacks go early in the draft. . . . The two teams you would see taking quarterbacks in the top 10, after the Colts, are Miami and Washington. It all comes down to how they feel about these guys.”

Barkley made his announcement at an afternoon news conference at USC during which the school’s marching band performed.

“I am staying because I want to finish what I started,” Barkley said.

He was coming off a junior season in which he threw for 3,528 yards with 39 touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

“It’s a special, special day,” USC Coach Lane Kiffin said at the news conference.

Some draft analysts had expected Barkley and Griffin to enter the draft and join Luck as top-10 selections.

The Indianapolis Colts beat the Texans, 19-16, on Thursday night for only their second win of the season, tied with Minnesota and St. Louis for the fewest in the league. While the Vikings or Rams have prized young quarterbacks and could trade the top pick if they get it, the Colts would be more likely to keep it and use it on Luck.The Colts would have to make a decision about whether to have both Luck and Peyton Manning, the four-time league MVP who has not played this season after undergoing two neck surgeries this year, on their roster.

“Talking to teams, it sounded to me like there already was a lot of momentum for Robert Griffin to be the second quarterback taken, if he’s in the draft,” said Casserly, now an NFL analyst for CBS. “Then there was a difference of opinion about Barkley and Landry Jones, which would go next. This helps Landry Jones. It helps [Texas A&M’s Ryan] Tannehill. You could see him being pushed up now to the late first round or early second round. Other guys will get pushed up by this.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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