Three years ago, Mel Kiper predicted that Georgia’s incoming freshman quarterback, Matthew Stafford, would eventually become the first overall pick of the NFL. And with the 2009 draft concluded, and the Lions selecting Stafford No. 1 overall, it may take another 3 years to remove the smug grin from the face of ESPN’s draft guru.
Although Kiper only managed to pick 8 of 32 first round players successfully, he’s using Stafford as the basis of his draft genius, and now points his all seeing eye towards the 2012 draft. With another bold prediction of the future, he says USC’s Matt Barkley will be the NFL’s first overall pick in 2012.
How bold of a prediction is it? Including Sanchez, 3 of the last 4 Trojan starting quarterbacks were selected in the top 10 of their draft classes. Carson Palmer was No.1 overall to the Bengals in 2003. And had Leinart chosen to forego his senior year, still riding the wave of Heisman success and a National Championship, he would have likely been the No. 1 overall selection of 2005, instead of the Niners’ choice of Alex Smith. Unlike the Matthew Stafford prediction, choosing Barkley in 2012 is merely playing the odds.
Of all the quarterbacks under Pete Carroll, Barkley arrives as the most ready to play. And by the time he decides to make his departure, he may prove to be the best of them all. But making a first overall projection is difficult, because so much is dependent on that happening. If the 2008 NFL season goes in a different direction, altering the draft order, Matthew Stafford may not go first, making Kiper wrong. If Oakland held the first selection, and unless they traded out, a quarterback would not have been their primary choice. And also, if the Heisman Trophy winning Sam Bradford makes an opposite decision, his addition to the ’09 class disrupts the quarterback ranks on NFL big boards.
If Barkley remains healthy and patient, I can look into the future and also give him a top 10 projection. In my personal mock draft, I also had Stafford going first to the Lions, which was just one of five chosen accurately, three less than Kiper. This was done without access to NFL insiders or a presence at any pre-draft scouting events. If having full resources amounts to being smug over 8 0f 32 correct picks (including the top choice), then getting 5 by peeping through and outside window should make me eligible for the same….right?