The decision today by Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley to return to school for his senior year throws a wrench in a the NFL Draft and probably will decrease speculation about the Bills thoughts of taking a quarterback with their first pick.
Barkley probably would have been a top-five pick. Now Southern Cal will be one of the favorites for the national championship in 2012. Four other Trojans who are top prospects announced their plans. Tackle Ryan Kalil (a top-five prospect) and defensive end Nick Perry are turning pro. All-America safety T.J. McDonald is returning for his senior season.
It already was looking like a long-shot that the Bills would be in position to get a top quarterback in the draft, even if they finished 5-11. Now it's looking like a longer shot.
Indianapolis probably can't pass on Andrew Luck with the first pick. There are four other teams with an interest in a quarterback picking ahead of the Bills. They include Jacksonville (4-10), Cleveland (4-10), Washington (5-9) and Miami (5-9).
The strength-of-schedule tie-breaker between the Bills and Dolphins figures to go down to the wire at the end of the season, if they remain tied. Miami finishes with games against New England and the New York Jets. Washington easily could win one of its last two games. The Redskins play at home against Minnesota this week then finish on the road in Philadelphia. Cleveland plays Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Jacksonville plays Tennessee and Indianapolis. The Jaguars' strength of schedule currently is a bit easier than that of the Bills, and if that holds, the Jaguars would pick ahead of Buffalo even if the two finish tied.