All Eyes Are On Junior Quarterbacks’ Decisions To Stay In College Or Leave Early For NFL

NFL general managers let out a sigh of disbelief on Thursday when Matt Barkley announced that he would remain at USC for his senior season.

It was just assumed that Barkley was going to enter April’s NFL draft as one of the top picks.  NFL Draft experts had Barkley projected as the No. 2 quarterback that would be taken in next year’s draft and well within one the top 10 picks.

Matt Barkley definitely changed the outlook of next year’s NFL draft and if other junior signal callers follow his lead, the landscape of the NFL will look a lot different for teams looking to select a quarterback.Andrew-Luck-Robert-Griffin

* – Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III photo credit: via TSM Interactive

In the history of the NFL Draft, it is hard to recall a time that the top four quarterback prospects were all juniors.  As the college football season progressed, it became apparent that the top quarterbacks (Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Robert Griffin III, and Landry Jones) to be selected in April’s NFL Draft would be juniors if they all left school.

All four junior quarterback prospects were believed to be leaving after this season and were projected to get drafted in the first round.  Here is a look at where WalterFootball had these quarterbacks being taken in the first round as of December 10th.

  • Andrew Luck (Stanford)– First overall pick
  • Matt Barkley (USC)– Top 10 pick
  • Robert Griffin III (Baylor)– Top 15 pick
  • Landry Jones (Oklahoma)– Top 20 Pick

These were the only quarterbacks that were projected to get selected in the first round. Behind them is Texas A&M senior, Ryan Tannehill.  Tannehill is projected to be drafted in the second round and his stock might be moving up with Matt Barkley’s decision.

After Matt Barkley’s decision on Thursday, all eyes will be on these other junior quarterbacks to see what their plans are for next season.  Now that Barkley has decided to stay in school, it proves that it is not a guarantee that these players will just run for the money at the next level.

Some of have called this “the year of the quarterback,” in regards to April’s NFL Draft but only if these coveted junior quarterbacks don’t stay for their senior seasons would that be possible.  For those teams like Washington, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Seattle that need a quarterback, they will be anxiously waiting to see what the rest of the juniors decide.  If all of them decide to stay in school, then this could turn  into one of the weaker drafts for quarterbacks.

A lot of NFL general managers and fan bases wanting one of these junior quarterbacks under center next season will be paying close attention to the rumors about their decisions regarding next season very closely.

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