The Arizona Cardinals have been mired in quarterback struggles for most of the past decade. Excluding the performance of possible Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, the list of starters include Matt Leinart, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Derek Anderson, Ryan Lindley, Jeff Blake and Josh McCown.
Kolb, unwilling to take a pay cut, was released and longtime backup Drew Stanton is slated to become the starter in the 2013 season. A better question is will the Cardinals decide to draft a quarterback in the draft and who is that pick? The answer is Matt Barkley.
Matt Barkley’s USC career will most likely be remembered for his series of highs and lows. In his first three years as the Trojans signal caller he was one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, including an excellent junior season which propelled him into Heisman contention. Rather than concluding his oustanding career then and becoming a first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, he chose to return for his senior season.
Unfortunately for Barkley, he had one of the most disappointing seasons in college football. Barkley struggled with inconsistency and USC fell from being the number one team in the country and national championship favorites to a team that lost to lowly Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl to finish the season 7-6.
Despite those struggles he is still one of the better quarterback prospects in this draft. Though his stock took a significant hit this season, if Barkley is available in the second round he could be a good solution for the Cardinals quarterback woes.
He is a very accurate passer and although he is not the most athletic quarterback, Barkley is mobile enough to escape from defenders. Arm strength is the biggest issue for him and USC’s outstanding receiving corps, led by Marquise Lee and Robert Woods, may have made him look like a better quarterback than he is actually is.
The Cardinals do offer him one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in Larry Fitzgerald, though there iss not much depth behind him as Early Doucet was released.
Despite that, Barkley is very talented and even though he is a risk, he is worth taking a gamble on. New Arizona head coach Bruce Arians also has a track record of developing rookie quarterbacks. For example Andrew Luck had an outstanding season for the Indianapolis Colts when Arians was at the helm.
The Arizona Cardinals have struggled to find consistency at the quarterback position in recent years and although Barkley is a high-risk prospect, the possible high reward is worth the investment for the Cardinals.