Highly decorated USC quarterbacks have had a checkered history in the NFL over the past decade, fading steadily after early-career hype. New Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is the most successful of an underwhelming group that includes Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel and Mark Sanchez.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie Matt Barkley enters the league burdened by comparisons with previous Trojans quarterbacks, now viewed as physically limited products of an elite college system. Palmer, for one, isn't buying the concerns that caused Barkley to slide to the fourth round in the 2013 NFL Draft.
"I know Matt can play. I've had the opportunity to work out with him over the last couple of years. And I've obviously had a chance to watch him play," Palmer told NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano in an interview that will appear Tuesday on "NFL Total Access."
"For him to go in the fourth round is an absolute steal. I think the bigger question is how he fits into that system, and only time will tell that. But whether the guy can play or not, he can absolutely play, and I know he's excited to prove a lot of people wrong."
If that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because Palmer offered similar praise for Sanchez back in 2010. "He's a really good football player," Palmer said, "and if people don't think he is yet, they'll see in the future."
Sanchez's $8.5 million guaranteed salary is now a millstone around the New York Jets franchise's neck after an NFL-high 52 turnovers over the past two seasons.
While we appreciate Palmer's experience and zeal, we put a lot more stock in the prognostications of those scouts, executives and analysts who get paid to break down the film.