A lot of people are already talking about which QB the Seahawks are going to take in next year's draft after they opted not to select one this season. By most estimations, the Hawks will not be in a position to select Andrew Luck, likely a top-3 pick (probably overall #1, but who knows which team will be picking there). Assuming Luck declares, right now, USC's Matt Barkley is probably the #2 QB prospect for the 2012 draft (also, assuming Barkley declares).
Though I try, and at some point would love to be a trustworthy source for scouting, I have to defer to the experts on this one. Earlier this offseason, Rob Staton of Seahawks' Draft Blog, answered some questions for Field Gulls about Barkley and here's what he had to say (with a comparison to Andrew Luck):
"There's very little between Luck and Barkley. Both have incredible poise in the pocket, they're very accurate quarterbacks and good decision makers. Luck is a grade ahead in terms of athleticism and making plays with his legs, but Barkley is surprisingly shifty and capable of running for first downs. Neither has the kind of physical tools that Cam Newton or Jake Locker had as the top two quarterbacks drafted this year, but they do have ideal mechanics that'll need only minor tweaks. Both will be able to start quickly in their NFL careers and barring injury or circumstance they should become top-10 quarterbacks.
Focusing on Barkley in particular, his progress in two years having been a true-freshman starter is remarkable. He's had to deal with a change of coaching staff in that time and also the loss of some key playmakers to the NFL. To go from high school to his level of play in two seasons learning on the run is incomparable. If he was physically dominant you might understand because Cam Newton was just better than every opponent he faced last year and adjusting to college pace from the JUCO ranks was relatively easy for him. Barkley doesn't have that physical brilliance, so when you see him making 2-3 reads, putting accurate touch on his passes, showing pro-instincts and leading by example you can't help but be impressed."
So I think it's safe to say that Staton thinks highly of the USC signal caller. Staton though, like any scout, is not infallible, but has a good track record and in his analysis, he backs up his points with game-tape examples. Check out a more detailed piece Rob put together on Barkley here.
To get another view on Barkley, I consulted Scott Enyeart, a former Division-1 coach (UNLV) and current football writer, covering the Pac-12 for NeonTommy.com. He's a USC fanatic, and a personal friend to Pete Carroll (and other staff members at USC). I trust his analysis on all things Pete Carroll almost second-to-none outside of hearing a direct quote from Pete himself, so I was interested to hear what Scott thought of Matt Barkley.
Enyeart has had the opportunity to watch basically every snap Barkley has taken at USC and even did some scouting of him when the QB was still in high school. Here's what he had to say:
"Field presence comes naturally to him. Even as a true freshman making his first collegiate road start AT Ohio State, he was able to remain poised and lead a game winning drive. In the last year he's grown even further in this area, becoming a vocal leader and demonstrating total control on the field. I think his leadership qualities are underrated.
His mastery of the offense is evident. This past spring he would constantly coach up receivers between plays when they would run the wrong route. That's particularly impressive because the offense at USC is a pro-style scheme, and relatively complex. On top of that, He has only spent a year learning Kiffin's offense, which means he shows an ability to learn AND master schemes quickly. He did the same thing as a true freshman under Jeremy Bates' offense.
Mechanically he is as polished as they come. He was groomed to be an NFL quarterback from a young age. His accuracy and arm strength are superior. Although - his accuracy on the deep ball has room for improvement - he has a tendency to overthrow receivers at times.
He admittedly will force throws at times, as any young QB will do.
His mobility is underrated. This spring he broke off a number of long runs during practice, and has shown an ability in games to evade a pass rush, and throw outside of the pocket."
Interesting stuff from Enyeart. I've included a few more videos of Barkley below for you to take a look at. Thanks again to Rob and Scott for their input.