I received many e-mails and tweets about my 2013 NFL Mock Draft and the upcoming NFL Draft in general. To share the answers to the questions publicly, I decided to start up a mailbag column. Pass along your NFL draft questions and comments. I'll put together a mailbag periodically that answers questions/comments sent via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @draftcampbell.
From Jake Field, Southern California
Do you think that the lack of success that former USC quarterbacks Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez are having in the NFL right now will hurt Matt Barkley's draft stock. I know he looks good now, but so did all of them?"
Thanks for the interesting question Jake. That brings up more than just Matt Barkley. First of all, I don't think NFL teams are going to penalize Barkley for the failures of previous USC quarterbacks. You're right that none of those three are dominant NFL starters who are wearing rings from leading their team to a Lombardi, but I don't think the USC heritage is the reason why they've failed. Teams are always looking for franchise quarterbacks and Barkley fits the profile.
Assuming he stays healthy this year, Barkley will enter the NFL with tons of experience after being a four-year starter. He showed improvement in each season and was utterly dominant last season.
Barkley laid claim to the Trojans' starting quarterback position as a freshman and completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,735 yards and 15 touchdowns, but the young signal-caller also threw 14 interceptions. He completed 62.6 percent of his throws for 2,791 yards with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2010's 12 games. Barkley had some huge outings as a junior, completing 69 percent of his passes for 3,528 yards with 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He really improved his decision making and ball security last year.
Barkley is adept at reading defenses quickly and working through his progressions; rare traits for a college signal-caller. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has mastered a pro system in the West Coast offense run under head coach Lane Kiffin. Off the field, Barkley has the reputation as being a high-character individual who is involved in community charity work. If the senior plays like he did in 2011, he should be a top-10 pick next April.
In general, NFL scouts don't hold previous players from a program against current prospects. Scouts do look at the college system and weigh that against players if they are coming from a program that constantly produces massive numbers. For example quarterbacks from schools like Hawaii, Houston or Texas Tech have been viewed as system quarterbacks. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball will be hit with that this year.
USC has had a coaching staff turnover and other changes while still playing in one of the best conferences in the nation, so the Trojans don't really fit the mold of a system that produces phony numbers for any player they put out there. Otherwise, Barkley would have had better production in 2009 and 2010.
From Christopher Kotsones, Ann Arbor, Michigan
"I was wondering if there is a possiblity that the Lions might trade Cliff Avril for some future draft picks. I feel like Detriot has enough depth at DE for this year, while they might not be as talented as Avril, I feel like they could do a good job in filling in for him. Especially since it seems like they wont be able to retain him for a long term deal next year, with so many other important players in their last year of their contract.
I feel like it might be better to deal him and grab a first or second round pick out of him for next years draft. Lots of teams want a pass rushing DE so they are very valuable, he could bring in a fair amount of picks. It would obviously benefit the Lions more to get some trade value out of him instead of having him just sign with another team next year. What do you think about this?"
I think an Avril deal is possible, but only next offseason because of contract and cap considerations. I think Detroit would be more likely to tag him again and then do a trade with a team that has negotiated a long-term deal with him. If Avril has another good year, his value will be really high coming off three seasons of proven pass-rushing ability. The Lions should get multiple draft picks in that case, including a least one first-rounder.
I believe Avril is making a mistake from a football standpoint. Detroit has a great line around him, and Avril won't find that in just about any team that he would sign with. His long-term career is going to be more productive, and likely last longer in the NFL, by playing next to Ndamukong Suh. Turning down the long-term contract the Lions offered carries a huge risk for Avril.
If Avril gets injured this season, it could kill his value and he'll never have another offer as good as the one he turned down. It doesn't even have to be a season-ending knee injury; it could be a nagging ankle, shoulder or hamstring that knocks his production down significantly.
Many great pass-rushers can go through a down season. Julius Peppers had 2.5 sacks in 2007. John Abraham had four sacks in 2006. Osi Umenyiora had six sacks in 2006. Will Smith had three sacks in 2008. Clay Matthews had six sacks last year. If Avril has a year like that, he'll kill his value. Sitting out part of training camp is only going to make that a more likely reality.
An Avril trade is possible, but more likely to be next March.
From Mark Miller, Waco, Texas
"Considering all of Dez Bryant's off-the-field issues, do you think the Cowboys should look at wide receiver early in next year's draft? And if they do, what could they get for Bryant in a trade?"
I think the Cowboys should try and straighten out Bryant before replacing him. They have a lot invested in him and clearly he has the talent to be one of the top wide outs in the NFL.
The Bryant situation makes it more hurtful that Dallas couldn't re-sign Laurent Robinson, but the team still have other good receivers for Tony Romo to work with. Obviously, tight end Jason Witten is an elite player. Miles Austin is a good contributor, too, and I think fifth-round pick Danny Coale could turn into steal for the Cowboys.
Dallas can also lean more on the running game with DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones. It is too early to give up on Bryant in my opinion. Plus, there is unlikely to be as talented a receiver available where the Cowboys are projected to be picking in 2013.
Right now, it is hard to say what Bryant would bring back in a trade. The Steelers traded Santonio Holmes for only a fifth-round pick. I think that isn't enough to make dealing Bryant worth while. Plus teams are going to be hesitant to bring him into the organization.
It is hard to envision another team willing to give quality picks for a headcase like Bryant.
From Clint Rivers, Clearwater, Florida
"Charlie you've worked with NFL teams and been in locker rooms, what do you think can be done to stop all the DUI madness with NFL players?"
It is a real problem without easy solutions. I will say it is generally unfair to blame coaches and organizations for player arrests. These are grown men and you can't expect coaches to babysit players 24/7. The coaches have their own families to attend to, so acting as a taxi dispatcher on Friday and Saturday night is ludicrous. The players are grown men and they have to be accountable.
It seems to me that the way for the NFL to cut down on the arrests is to make the players work more. They have roughly six weeks off from the team facility from mid-June to late July. The non-playoff team players are off from work in January until the offseason program starts in the spring. What other job in America gives its employees 3-4 months vacation from the office while paying them millions of dollars?
The players are well paid, and many sacrifice their health for their playing career, so I don't have a problem with the player salaries. That being said, giving them almost a third of the year off leaves them with too much time on their hands. It won't hurt the players at all to have more hours in the weight room and/or film study. Forcing them to be at the team facility with their coaches will cut down on their night life.
However, my solution is impossible to start because the players' union would never allow it, so I don't have a real answer to the problem. But if I were the dictator of the NFL, that's what I would do.
From Tim Harris, Concord, New Hampshire
"Do you think the Patriots can get away with not re-signing Andre Carter?"
Since New England is trying to win another Lombardi, I would re-sign Carter. That being said, I think the Patriots still could have a good pass-rush without him; they just need more young players to develop quickly.
Rookies Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower could both be quality edge-rushers early in their careers. I think Hightower especially could have an impact in 2012. Alabama used him as an edge rusher last year in passing situations, and he did a good job of getting pressure on the quarterback.
Brandon Spikes also played from defensive end during pass-rushing situations in college, and he had some real success at getting to the quarterback for the Gators. Spikes and Hightower could move to end or outside linebacker to rush the quarterback. Between Spikes, Hightower, Jones and rookie Jake Bequette, the Patriots have a lot of choices for edge-rushers to rotate into the game.
Having Carter isn't going to hurt New England, so I'd bring him back for a postseason run. I think the young Patriots will pan out over the next five years, and the team is going to have an excellent set of linebackers and edge rushers.