Throw King Crimson…Throw…

Disclaimer: Now before you read this blog, let’s make it clear that I am an AJ McCarron fan.  I think he is poised beyond his years and if you need proof, just check my tweets.

 This is a huge weekend for the “quarterback position” for this years’ upcoming NFL draft.  It’s the time of the year when the top college QB prospects will get grilled and prodded like a Bone-in Rib-Eye.  Yes!  You guessed it…The NFL Combine. 

For a few it’s a time to build your case on why a team should select you.  Others will be left to pick up the pieces on what was once a promising career.  For some of these prospects the wheels were wobbly even before getting to this point.  Example: AJ McCarron of Alabama, who I love coming out of their bowl game.  Only to not participate in the Senior Bowl, and to follow that up by NOT participating in the throwing drills at the combine, this I just don’t understand.  AJ’s biggest asset is his LEADERSHIP qualities! Furthermore, his very impressive resume, which includes two National Titles (which could have easily been three), and a possible Heisman Trophy (had it not been for a freak field goal return for a touchdown). 

Up until this point AJ McCarron has done everything right……However, by not playing in the Senior Bowl AJ missed the chance to show just how valuable he could be to a team.  Especially those looking for a potential franchise quarterback in the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Joe Montana.  By doing so he went against what he has always done best, and that is to COMPETE! 

Again, I want to be very clear…I’ve always been a huge fan of AJ and I’ve taken plenty of heat for doing so.  I just don’t agree with this approach when he has so much to gain and not nearly as much to lose.  What is the down side?  That your arm wasn’t the strongest in draft?  No secret, we all know that.  But we also know that there is no other quarterback who was better prepared to seize the moment, like AJ, the Quarterback that played for Americas most demanding Coach (Nick Saban) and Fan Base (Alabama).

 Furthermore, to make things more frustrating you have decided to PASS at the NFL Combine, where the throws are very simplistic and not as challenging as most people think.  So by skipping the Senior Bowl AND the throwing portion of the combine you are taking the all or nothing approach, (just throwing at Pro Day) which could lead to the biggest upset of your career.

 AJ, you are a true competitor and champion.  But you know better than anyone what can happen when you put all yours eggs in one play!  #GoingForTheFieldGoal instead of playing safe for overtime!  You Remember…  

 Good Luck AJ!!!  Hope you have a Rabbits Foot!  If not I’ll put one in the mail.

Roll Tide! 

My Crystal Ball for 7 QB’s in the 2013 NFL Draft

All, I have rated my top 7 QB’s in the 2013 NFL Draft below. These ratings reflect the QB’s best fit, given their skill set AND what round they will be selected in. 

Round #1

 1.    Matt Barkley- Cleveland Browns


 How this will happen? Barkley is a pro style passer and Mike Lombardi (Browns GM) is an “old school guy” who believes that the pro style QB is still the way to go.  No other QB in this draft ranks higher in that skill set than Barkley. 

Side note: Many believe Barkley would have been the 4th pick overall if he had come out last year.

Round #1

 2.    Ryan Nassib- Buffalo Bills


 How this will happen?  Nassib is also a pro style passer with strong athletic ability/strength.  With Nassib’s knowledge of Doug Marrone’s system, the transition would be easy.  Even though some have him projected as a possible 8th pick overall based on his relationship with Marrone, I don’t believe that even Bills can take him that high.  My guess is that Bills will trade down for additional picks or trade back in to the latter part of the first round for Nassib.


Side note: The next two QB’s on my list are a toss up in terms of how the QB position is being played today.  Personally, I would give more upside to EJ Manuel, but that is open for debate.  The real hand of poker will be played between the Eagles and the Raiders.  If these are truely the two QB’s they covet, expect one to possibly sneak back into the first round.  With this scenario, I would guess that Geno Smith will be taken in the first by the Eagles. (Below is my prediction based on each team moving forward with their original picks).

Round #2

 3.    Geno Smith-Oakland Raiders


Round #2

 4.    EJ Manuel-Philadelphia Eagles


Round #3

 5.    Tyler Wilson-Kansas City Chiefs


How this will happen?  Pro Style guy that I assume reminds Andy Reid a lot of Nick Foles.  I think if Wilson had come out last year, he may have been a first rounder.


Round #3

 6.    Landry Jones-Jacksonville Jaguars


How this can happen?  Big guy, big arm, and great pocket awareness.  First round talent but lacked signature wins in his college career.


Round #3

7.    Tyler Bray-San Diego Chargers


How this will happen?  First round talent with a few drawbacks: questionable leadership skills and maturity.  Given the chance to go back to his hometown and learn from Philip Rivers could do wonders for his future NFL career.


I’m always open for comments and questions…

-Steve Clarkson

QB Guru’s Sound Off on QB Draft Class

Check out today’s Bleacher Report article; “QB Guru’s Sound Off on QB Draft Class.” By Josh Gleason

Thank you and Josh for including my thoughts and evaluation.


2013 Quarterback Draft Diagnosis

Several months ago, I wrote about the impact a proper game plan can have for quarterback prospects heading into the draft.  I also noted some of the more important things to add to their “to do successfully “checklist.  At this time, I’d like to give my most recent report on how a few of the top QB prospects performed, and how their preparation affected them.

Geno Smith 


I thought Geno did the best overall.  Smith was the top QB heading into the draft and didn’t do anything to drop from his spot.  However, he may not go as early as people thought due to free agency signings, and recent trades to “quarterback hungry teams”.  For the most part, Smith’s workouts were solid, but he did leave many pundits questioning his ability to grasp NFL offenses.  I find this a bit premature, and feel that if given the right situation, Smith has a chance to be a solid NFL Quarterback.

Notes to consider for Geno Smith: (Strong arm, has shown the ability to throw a variety of touch passes, teams must be careful in thinking he is the next Kaepernick….Smith is not nearly the athlete.) 

Matt Barkley


This one is a little closer to home so it’s a bit difficult to say the following.  I think the world of Matt and he’ll go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in school’s history, but clearly not the best (when compared to former Trojan alums such as Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer).  I make this statement based off of what these players brought to USC Football.  Palmer and Leinart will always get higher marks due to their outstanding achievements i.e. Heisman Trophy winners and National Championships, (and of course, ultimately they were 1st rounders in the NFL Draft).  I wish I could say this about Barkley, but his senior season and his Pro Day workout would make that a “reach” at this point.

Notes to consider for Matt Barkley: (4 years starting quarterback for both programs he played with i.e. Mater Dei HS (first 4 year starter) and USC , despite senior year…he should not be undervalued, Barkley is an intelligent player and has a  ”Manning” like control & feel for the game)


Ryan Nassib


This guy could be a sleeper in this year’s draft class.  Nassib has a very strong arm with Steve Young like athleticism.  While in college, Nassib lead his undermanned Syracuse football team to a bowl game in 2012.  He ended his college career breaking the school total passing yards record (9,060), pass completions (780), and passing yards per game (201.3). Clearly, with this much talent, the early 2nd round if not late 1st would be a realistic choice for someone of his skill set and upside.

Notes to Consider for Ryan Nassib: (He may be a steal in the 2nd round, his old coach from Syracuse, Doug Marrone is now head coach for Bills, Nassib has a gunslinger mentality similar to a famous 2nd rounder who played for the Packers…Brett Favre ring a name??)


Sounding Off:

Unfortunately and interestingly, the best quarterback in this draft may be a veteran.  If all indicators are correct about the Philadelphia Eagles leaning towards drafting Geno Smith with their 1st round pick, then Nick Foles will be a hot prospect!  Remember Matt Hasselback’s early career?  Matt started his career in Green Bay before he was traded to Seattle and there his Pro Bowl career began!



On the surface this quarterback draft class appears to be weak, but I’m betting that after all the dust is settled…these guys will be solid productive starting quarterbacks in the NFL……. in the very near future.

The Sabotage Of The Quarterback

It was only a few years ago when the New York Jets had unveiled a promising bright new star.  He was the player formerly known as the “Sanchize.” 


Yes I know…he was only completing 54.9% of his passes, but he was also doing something very few rookie QB’s in NFL would accomplish and that was to lead his team within one game of the Super Bowl.  He was the next Broadway Joe…he was Mark Sanchez, or as rabid Jets fans would call him…Mark Sanchize.  That was THEN this is NOW


The same quarterback with so much promise is now just a shadow of himself.  A broken spirited quarterback with very little support.   The good news is it’s not too late to rectify this situation. 

If I may, I would like to take this time and be NFL Commissioner for the day-

  •  My first order of business would be to summon the owners of the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars to my NFL office.  The purpose of this meeting would be to remind them the importance of “The Shield,” as the #1 global brand.  My job as the NFL commissioner is to make sure that the shield comes first, and what makes good business for the shield is that both the Jets and the Jaguars are profitable.


  •  I would then show the Jaguars an aerial view of their empty stadium on game day, which is not good business for anyone or any franchise. 


  • I will then do what my great predecessor (Rodger Goodell) did when he hand walked an extraordinary quarterback talent, Mike Vick to the Philadelphia Eagles.  He knew the Eagles Organization was the proper setting for him to succeed upon being released from prison, and that he did.  So, in a round about way I would apply the simple process of “step and repeat”.  
  • I would order Tim Tebow immediate free agency with the condition of him signing with the Jaguars.  Being a hometown hero of Jacksonville, a proven winner, and true competitor this would solve the empty stadium issues and give the good people of Jacksonville something to hang their hats on…some HOPE.

Now back to what I do as a Quarterback Coach.  When I trained Tim a month or so ago, I came away telling myself one thing….. despite what others may arguei.e. running back, fullback, wedge breaker, yada yada yada, he is A QUARTERBACK….. and if given the right setting, he WILL win. 


The Evolution of A Quarterback: Matt Barkley

By: Steve Clarkson

 When the USC Football season started, quarterback Matt Barkley was regarded as the Top Quarterback in college and possibly the number one pick overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.  At this time, USC was also picked to run the table on the way to a National Championship and Matt Barkley was expected to win the Heisman Trophy for a storybook ending.  That was then and this is now.  USC ended the season on a four game losing streak and finished with a 7-5 record.  To make matters worse Matt Barkley was injured in the UCLA loss and his availability for the Hyundai Sun Bowl game is in doubt.

The Critics have come out, and like always, the starting quarterback becomes the culprit, trying to make us believe that Matt Barkley’s stock may have fallen at such a rate that he may no longer be a first round look. 

The Evolution of A Quarterback is a long process.  Before I dive into it, I would like to mention that this is free advice for Matt, his family, and all who represent him.  This is what I would like to see happen between now and April’s draft….   

 1st Prediction

When all is said and done, Matt Barkley will not only be in the first round, but a top 20 pick in April’s draft.

The last time the Spirit of Troy witnessed Matt Barkley, he was walking out on the field with arm in sling to the chorus of a standing ovation, in recognition for all he sacrificed for the good of the Cardinal & Gold. 

Matt came back under the mantra of “unfinished business”.  Of course, this season isn’t what he and his teammates had in mind, but I’ll argue that Matt accomplished quite bit given the situation of USC.  I’m sure Matt has the urge to play in USC’s bowl game and be in that uniform one more time, but that would be a mistake!

 1st Piece of Advice:  Matt should continue to do what he’s always done, which is to keep USC moving forward.  In my opinion, Matt playing in the bowl game is meaningless for his career.  Playing too soon after his injury could do a lot of damage if not 100% healthy.

 2nd Piece of Advice: The next game Matt should play in is the Senior Bowl, period!  This will give Matt and his agents enough time to survey the landscape and come up with a proper strategy for Matt leading up to April’s draft. 

 I’ve been a part of this process for more than 25 years and what history has shown us is that trends change.  Each quarterback has their own trend and it is ever changing.  Barkley was the “can’t miss kid coming into college.  Now, there are whispers that Matt’s stock has fallen, and people are questioning his ability and thus his future quarterback success.

3rd Piece of Advice:  There is no better time than now to take these months and get back to the “can’t miss kid coming into the NFL.”

Matt Barkley’s Check List:

  •  9 weeks to prepare for the Senior Bowl-This is a time to work on all your weaknesses while still  maintaining all the things you have done well up to this point.
  •  Re-introduce the public to Matt Barkley-Highlight the attributes that have made you so special, i.e. all your charity here in the United States, overseas, your work with the Marines, and of course why you came back to USC in the first place…
  • Senior Bowl should be where you shine the most.- Your ability to communicate to your coaches will be noticed.  This is the time where the evaluators will be more than impressed with your ability to make and execute all the plays.
  • Next up is the NFL combine.  To work out?  Or not to workout?  That is the question-This question will be answered based on your performance at the Senior Bowl.  Let’s assume the game went well, very well…Because you played so well at the Senior Bowl, everyone will have just seen the incredible talent you have, with doubters hiding for the shadows.  Your performance you will then be enable you to take the NFL combine as a time to focus on the personal interviews etc.  Make sure to have your agents notify the NFL that you will only be participating in the physicals and the interviews at the combine.
  • Moving onto the Pro Day workout.  This is more like a “Performance.”The key is to write your script that highlights the needs of teams that are most likely to select a quarterback in draft.

NOTE: This process is made easier when your agents send out a request to the      coaches asking for what they would like to see in your Pro Day workout.

  • Make sure your “Performance,” leaves the coaches and evaluators wanting to see more. 
  • Always leave enough room in your “script” to execute the unexpected, i.e., coaches may request for a specific throw or movement
  • If you do well at the Pro Day, you will be invited to perform a private workout with those teams that are very, very interested in you. 

NOTE: These workouts will most likely be with the coaches and the offensive coordinators.

  • Finally at the end of the day, everything that you’ve displayed over the last 8 years of your quarterbacking life will come down to this question…

 How will they view Matt Barkley as the LEADER of their franchise?

         -His character

         -Work ethic

         -Ability to reach a higher ceiling

         -Intelligence on and off the field

         -The intangibles



-By: Steve Clarkson

Evolution of the Quarterback

What was once thought of as the beacon of stability for your favorite football franchise, is now trending towards a situational player.   Who would of thought years ago, as we watched some of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play; (Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Roger Staubach, John Elway to name a few), that today we would be subjected to unimaginative and uncommitted organizations to one leader.  The truth is, that if you have a two- quarterback system, you have none. With a few exceptions to this i.e. Joe Montana and Steve Young, Craig Morton and Roger Staubach, Johnny Unitas and Earl Morall, Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer. 

A new trend is evolving for professional quarterbacks based on one factor, money.  With the implementation of the recent rookie wage scale, team owners are now afforded the luxury to draft (in some cases) more than one quarterback at once. Robert Griffin III aka RG3 was drafted as the #2 overall pick with the Washington Redskins. In prior years, this would have likely resulted in $40 million or so commitment.  This year however, RG3 signed that once $40 million contract for half of that figure.  In the same draft 3 rounds later the Redskins selected Kirk Cousins who prior to the draft was regarded as a late 1st early 2nd round pick.  This here is a situation where the quarterbacks are of similar traits, if one goes the other can keep the train moving without a drastic fall-off.  Example; this past weekend Redskins vs. Falcons, when RG3 had to leave the game due to injury, leaving Cousins to finish the game admirably. 

On the other side of the spectrum is the The New York Jets. Clearly their quarterback pieces don’t fit.  The Jets have a young developing quarterback, Mark Sanchez, who shows gradual improvement on his way to becoming a productive starter in this league.  It would have been logical for them to have picked up a veteran quarterback to help support his growth and development.  However, they bring in the polar opposite of what they needed, Tim Tebow. 

 What the owners fail to realize is that this trend is easily reversible by taking advantage of The Mulligan i.e the rookie wage scale.  Take a ¼ of the millions you saved and pay a quarterback specialist similar to Steve Mariucci, Brian Billick, Sam Wyche and Jim Fassel, (these are retired former NFL coaches with an excellent reputation for refining quarterbacks).  Football is entertainment and we as fans crave to be entertained.  The Jets would have been better suited following their historical past and taken note from their legendary highly innovative late owner Sonny Werblin.  To build this league you must have stars, “There is no greater star than the quarterback,” as Werblin said. 

The Jets are at a cross roads with their two polarizing figures, who could be that star.  Choose one and send the other packing for a sack of beans.  The Jets should then call a quarterback specialist (like the ones previously mentioned), and spend a couple million to have them help build the next Broadway Joe.