USC quarterback Mat Barkley had to wait longer than he expected to hear his name in the NFL draft, but he didn't have to wait too long on the third day. The Philadelphia Eagles traded up with the Jacksonville Jaguars and took Barkley with the first selection of the fourth round (98th overall).
Barkley's an experienced quarterback, but one wonders what the scheme fit would be in Chip Kelly's system. Though Barkley has good footwork, he's never run anything resembling a read-option offense, which makes one wonder if Kelly's NFL offense will be more different -- pocket-friendly, run-heavy, and with more multiple route concepts.
"I would say, yeah, I’m a traditional dropback quarterback, passing quarterback," Barkley said at the scouting combine, when asked if he could do more than act as a pocket quarterback. "At the same time, I definitely believe I have the quickness, the pocket mobility, to avoid [rushers and have] what it takes to get out of the pocket. I think my throwing on the run is great. I have complete confidence in that. I’m not going to be running a 4.3 40 or anything like that, but how many starting quarterbacks in the league this day can? I believe that I’m strong enough to make every throw, move in the pocket and make guys miss."
The main ding on Barkley, and the reason he slipped this far despite his generally impressive tape, is his relative lack of arm strength -- the functional ability to make throws into tight windows. At Oregon, Kelly set his quarterbacks up to throw shorter passes with multi-receiver concepts, so he's a fit in that sense.
Quarterback performance coach Chris Weinke, who worked with Barkley at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., told me at Barkley's pro day that the debits against his client's physical tools are overcooked.
"Here's the deal -- everybody gets enamored with arm strength," Weinke said. "The key for me when coaching quarterbacks, whether it's a veteran or a younger guy, is to understand that the most important thing is obviously accuracy. Along with that is being able to have the ability to process information and deliver the ball with anticipation. Very rarely in the National Football League do we drop back and throw the ball 70 yards. The great quarterbacks don't have to have a cannon for an arm -- they've got to be able to make all the throws physically, and to get the ball out on time."
Barkley can do all of those things. We'll have to see whether he's NFL-ready. Most likely, he starts his NFL career as Michael Vick's backup, in competition with Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon.