Matt Barkley Scouting Report
Matt Barkley, 6-3/227
By Charlie Campbell
Distributes the ball to a variety of weapons
Good on touch passes
Basis for good footwork
Accurate in college
Good work ethic
Improved his game
Does lots of charity work; will be a good presence in the community
Coming off shoulder injury
Not a dual threat
Only fits a West Coast offense
Good but not great size
Accuracy may not translate as well in NFL
Barkley could have been a top-10 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he decided to return to USC for his senior season. Barkley doesn't regret the decision, but he definitely hurt his draft stock for the NFL. While Barkley disappointed as a senior, there are plenty of teams that need quarterback help.
Barkley is as experienced and prepared as any quarterback could be entering the NFL. He 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 also threw 14 interceptions. He made progress as a sophomore completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 2,791 yards with 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Barkley's best season came as a junior in 2011. He had many prolific passing games, including throwing for six touchdown passes against UCLA and Colorado. He also led USC to a signature road win over Oregon. Barkley completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,528 yards with 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He was fantastic at getting the ball to his play-makers and avoiding mistakes. The Trojans' offense was extremely efficient and put up a lot of points.
There were a few different reasons why Barkley's senior year went poorly. The biggest issue was a bad season from USC's offensive line. Barkley lost left tackle Matt Kalil to the NFL, and the Trojans had young inexperienced replacements. The rest of the offesnive line struggled as well. As a result, Barkley was under a lot of pressure and took a lot of hits. USC's defense had problems, too, and often put Barkley in bad situations.
The senior didn't play well against Stanford or Washington, and was just average against California. He also had underwhelming games versus UCLA and Arizona. Barkley injured his shoulder against the Bruins after sustaining a massive shot from outside linebacker Anthony Barr. That knocked Barkley out against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. He completed 64 percent of his passes for 3,273 yards, 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2012.
The shoulder injury was said to be the reason that Barkley couldn't compete at the Senior Bowl or Combine. He is scheduled to throw for scouts before the 2013 NFL Draft. It appears that Barkley and his advisors are playing things extreme caution. He did interview well at the Combine and many believed he helped himself in Indianapolis.
As a quarterback, Barkley has the potential to be a competent game-manager. He is well-versed in the West Coast offense and moves the ball well in the short passing game. Barkley does not possess a big gun for an arm that can rip the ball downfield into tight windows. To make a downfield throws, he has to rely on timing, anticipation and the talent of his receiver.
Barkley also isn't a mobile quarterback. There is no way he is going to make plays with his feet on any read-option plays. He is a pocket passer who has good field vision and generally good decision-making. His interceptions went up as a senior because he was pressing and forcing throws to avoid opponents' pass rush.
Barkley's physical skill set is just slightly above average, but he is intelligent and instinctive. Barkley will need a stellar supporting cast with a good line and receiving targets to be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. He could distribute the ball to play-makers on short to intermediate passes and let them make plays.
Barkley grades out as a second-round pick for the 2013 NFL Draft, but he could sneak into the end of the first round to a team that is desperate for a quarterback. With his intelligence and work ethic, Barkley should quickly pick up his new offense and be ready to play during his rookie season.
Player Comparison: Matt Schaub.
Barkley and Schaub have similar playing styles. Both quarterbacks do well in a West Coast system and distributing the ball to play-makers. Schaub is a good game-manager who can make the throws needed to augment the Texans' powerful ground game. Both Barkley and Schaub make up for a lack of arm strength with intelligence, anticipation and throwing the ball accurately on time. Barkley could be an NFL quarterback like Schaub if he goes to a good team. Schaub was a third-round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and Barkley also grades out as a second-day pick.
Arizona, Buffalo, Jacksonville, New York Jets, Cleveland
There are a lot of quarterback-needy teams that could talk themselves into using an early-round pick on Barkley. While he doesn't grade out as a first-rounder, he could go in the top 32 just from the demand at the position. If Barkley falls into the second round, there are options for him.
Arizona and Buffalo may be desperate enough to trade up into the end of the first round for Barkley. Neither team has its long-term starter on the roster. There have been some rumors that the Cardinals really like Barkley.
The Jaguars and Jets feature busts Blaine Gabbert and Mark Sanchez as their starters. They are top competitors for being the worst quarterback in the NFL. Jacksonville and New York could strongly consider Barkley in the second round as a replacement for those disappointments.
If Barkley falls in the 2013 NFL Draft, he could be targeted by the Browns in the third round as competition for Brandon Weeden.
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