INDIANAPOLIS — Matt Barkley and Landry Jones made some tough calls last season.
Instead of taking first-round money and leaving school early, they decided to stick around, hone their skills, chase a national championship and improve their draft stock.
With the NFL draft about two months away, the two quarterbacks once billed as Heisman Trophy front-runners are now trying to enhance their chances of being selected early.
“I’ve learned a lot in this past year that you can’t teach in a classroom," Barkley said Friday at the NFL scouting combine. “You have to learn through experience in regards to handling adversity at its peak. You have to get guys going in the locker room, in the huddle, on the practice field when you’re not playing for the postseason. It allowed me to step up and be that voice."
It’s unclear whether that will help Barkley in a year where there is no clear-cut top choice, even among the quarterbacks.
Oklahoma’s Jones believes the extra year in college has made him better.
“I think I showed the things that I wanted to improve on," he said after measuring in at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds in Indy. “I shortened my motion and move around in the pocket a lot more than I have been."
There are so many concerns about this year’s class of skill players, some analysts believe the unthinkable could happen: an entire first round without a quarterback or running back selected.
Right now, the top-rated quarterback is believed to be West Virginia’s Geno Smith, like Jones and Barkley a drop-back passer. Others expect North Carolina State’s strong-armed Mike Glennon to be a fast riser as the draft nears.
—The Associated Press