The official announcement is just coming over the airwaves as I’m writing this, but it’s been all over Twitter for hours so as far as I’m concerned it’s already official. Matt Barkley is going back to USC for his senior season, removing one major QB prospect from this year’s draft.
The Vikings were never going to draft Barkley themselves – they already have that Christian Ponder fella – but the QB’s decision still has implications for Minnesota. As Peter King just pointed out in a tweet, Barkley’s return to USC raises the draft value of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. King speculates that some team may prize Griffin enough now to “trade more than is sensible to go up for him.” King lists Seattle, Washington, Miami and Cleveland as teams that might cough up picks to some team above them in the draft so they can nab Griffin.
That is where the Vikings might come in. As of now the Vikings are in the #2 spot, and are presumed to be targeting Barkley’s USC teammate Matt Kalil. But what if the Vikes decided they’d rather swing a deal with one of those QB-hungry teams, move down a few spots and stockpile picks? We know they have lots of needs.
Of course their greatest need of all is left tackle, the position played by the aforementioned Mr. Kalil. That being the case, the wise course of action for the Vikes would seem to be drafting Kalil if he’s there. But what if by some twist of fate the Vikings should drop out of that #2 spot? What if they’re drafting #3 and Kalil is off the board? Then I would advocate trading down. I would strongly advocate it. In fact I would probably pray for it.
Unfortunately there’s another factor that could complicate these plans: The Rams. They’re right there with two wins the same as the Vikings. If the Rams end up picking #2, they could just as easily make that trade-down. Then they’d get the boatload of picks and the Vikes…well, they’d be “stuck” taking Kalil. Not a bad alternative.
A lot of stuff still has to sort itself out before we fully grasp what all of this could mean. What we do know is that Barkley won’t be in the mix this year. And his decision to stay in school could make the Vikings’ draft pick even more valuable than before. Or it could change nothing, depending on where they end up picking. Isn’t this fun?