Why the Raiders Will Regret Not Drafting Matt Barkley

Ryan McCrystalFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2013

November 17, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA;    USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley (7) sets to pass in the first half of the game against the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl.  Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Neither Matt Barkley nor Tyler Wilson are can't-miss prospects. Both have physical limitations, and it's possible that neither will be the long-term solution for their respective teams at quarterback. 

But the Raiders missed an opportunity to bring in immediate competition for Matt Flynn by failing to land Barkley in the 2013 NFL draft. 

According to Len Pasquarelli of the National Football Post, the Raiders actually preferred Barkley to Wilson and were prepared to select him with their fourth-round pick. 

According to a report by Steve Corkran of the ContraCostaTimes.com, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen stated earlier this offseason that Flynn is his starter "until the competition dictates otherwise," and there has been no indication, thus far, that Wilson has closed the gap. 

Both Wilson and Barkley are limited in terms of their long-term upside due to their physical abilities, but Barkley is the more polished of the two quarterbacks at this stage of the process. As a result, if the Raiders wanted someone to push Flynn for the starting job, Barkley would have been the guy to target. 

Barkley's lack of downfield accuracy severely limits his ability to succeed in most NFL offenses, but he can be successful in the right system. 

A quick-strike offense would play to Barkley's strength and allow him to find immediate success, even if his long-term development may be limited. 

The play below demonstrates Barkley's ability to quickly and accurately get rid of the football with pressure closing in on him.

During the play, Barkley maintains his composure, and his footwork and mechanics remain steady, allowing him to deliver a quick strike. 

Wilson, however, lacks Barkley's fundamentals, and when pressure closes in on him, his bad habits lead to mistakes. 

Even without pressure, Wilson tends to use a long windup delivery which hinders his ability to get rid of the ball quickly and accurately. When a defender is closing in, Wilson speeds up his awkward motion and often throws from an open stance which leads to errant throws into coverage. 

Wilson's issues are correctable, but not if the Raiders force him into a starting role. He is still a decent developmental prospect, but the Raiders would slow his growth by throwing him into the fire early in his career. 

Due to Barkley's fundamentals and ability to handle pressure in a quick-strike offense, he would have been a viable option as a starting quarterback for the Raiders in 2013. 

In 2012, the Raiders ran a fairly friendly offense for Barkley's skill set. Only 19.8 percent of Carson Palmer's pass attempts were beyond 15 yards downfield which ranked in the lower half of the league, according to Advanced NFL Stats

New Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson is also known for running a quick-strike offense which would have fit Barkley's skill set perfectly. In 2011, Olson's last season as an offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay, Josh Freeman ranked dead last in the NFL with just 14 percent of his pass attempts travelling more than 15 yards, according to Advanced NFL Stats. 

Clearly, the Raiders are intrigued by Wilson's upside, but if Pasquarelli's report is accurate, the Raiders missed an opportunity by failing to ensure themselves of the opportunity to land Barkley. Not only did they reportedly prefer Barkley to Wilson, but Barkley would also offer a more immediate upgrade at the position. 

By selecting Wilson, the Raiders simply have another developmental prospect who may never be given a fair opportunity to succeed due to the talent-depleted roster in Oakland.