There are a few maybes and could haves that surround Matt Barkley. Most notably, this one: had he declared for the draft last year and both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III didn’t exist, he could have been the first overall pick. Therefore, since Luck and RG3 are real people, there was a damn good chance that he would have been a top 10 pick last spring, or at the very least top 15.
Barkley may have even changed the NFL and our universe forever, because at No. 12 the Seahawks would have been tempted to take him in the first round, and the Russell Wilson in Seattle show would have then just been something for our imaginations. I can’t live in that world.
Now, Barkley has fallen due to arm strength that’s good and sufficient, yet far from great. Although there’s still a faint chance his name will be called tomorrow night, the far more likely outcome for him is being a second-round pick Friday, which is just fine. Some lucky head coach and general manager will get a quarterback with a bright future who just needs a bit of development and seasoning, and he’s not quite ready to start right away. So ideally, a bridge QB will be in place until Barkley is ready.
The Buffalo Bills have that in Kevin Kolb, which is why they’re continuing an effort to confuse the hell out of us. They want Barkley.
Or maybe they want Ryan Nassib. Or maybe they don’t.
What’s clear about the Bills is that they’ll use one of their first two picks on a quarterback. And what’s becoming increasingly unclear is what that quarterback’s name will be, which will make the Bills one of the most intriguing teams to watch Thursday.
Nassib has been connected to the Bills throughout the draft process, mostly because their new head coach (Doug Marrone) was his coach at Syracuse. That familiarity has led to an exceedingly high grade on Nassib, and this morning when that was combined with the threat of the Jets taking him at No. 9, the possibility of someone other than Geno Smith being a top 10 quarterback became very real.
But now Barkley has surfaced, with multiple and respected sources connecting the USC quarterback to Buffalo over Nassib.
First it was Peter King, and then Albert Breer threw another log on the Barkley fire, followed by Matt Miller, with Miller and Breer saying the Bills actually prefer Barkley over Nassib. As a second-round pick? Fine. The Bills hold the 41st overall pick in the second round, and due to the aforementioned development and bridge scenario with Kolb, Barkley’s value is just fine there. But anything above that is lunacy for a quarterback who’s lacking velocity, and he’d be asked to complete passes in both Buffalo’s wintry hell, and on the road in New England and against the Jets.
Most likely, this is complete crap of the smelliest kind, and a leak to get the Jets — or whoever — off of Nassib at any point in the draft, whether it’s early in the top 10, later on in the opening round after a trade, or on Day 2.
On draft eve, the stink is strong.
UPDATE (6:46ET): Breathe, Bills Mafia. Breathe those deep breaths. Barkley now sounds like more of a fallback option for the Bills if they prioritize other needs over Nassib or Smith in the first round, or are beaten to them. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that he’ll be their target in the second round.