Updating previous reports that USC quarterback Matt Barkley would throw at the scouting combine, putting aside all concerns about his recent shoulder injury, ESPN's Adam Schefter indicated that Barkley will not do so. Instead, Barkley will take medical tests in Indianapolis this week, and may run and jump in the drills.
Barkley suffered a shoulder injury against UCLA on Nov. 17, and that prevented him from playing in the Trojans' loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, and from participating in the Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Ala. Barkley's decision to eschew the combine seems questionable, and will have NFL teams wondering if the injury is more serious than originally suspected. However, Schefter has learned that Barkley has already been cleared to throw at the Pro Day, and reports that Barkley's recovery from that injury is at "85-90 percent."
Barkley's decision to stay at USC for his senior season was criticized by some who thought that he was risking a sure top-10 pick in the 2012 NFL draft had he made himself available for the selection process. But it could just as easily be said that Barkley helped himself by waiting for a draft class that was less defined at the quarterback position, which the 2013 class certainly is. Most analysts have Barkley, injury and all, as the second-best quarterback in this class behind West Virginia's Geno Smith, and if he excels at a Pro Day that is always heavily attended by representatives from NFL teams, Barkley still has a shot at the first round.
In 2012, Barkley threw for 36 touchdowns and 3,273 yards on just 387 attempts. His 15 interceptions were a tick up from the seven he threw in 2011 against 39 touchdowns, but Barkley improved his yards per attempt from 7.9 to 8.5. Some experts, however, wonder if Barkley regressed as a decision-maker in 2012.
"I'll tell you where I am with him," Mike Mayock recently told Rich Eisen of the NFL Network about Barkley. "I'm confused, because I watched a lot of his tape a year ago, and the two things I knew were that he didn't take sacks and he didn't throw interceptions. And this year ... man, the tape is different. He can make every throw and he's got a good but not a great arm; he's smart; but he makes a bunch of bad decisions and throws, which is what I thought this kid wouldn't do."
One advantage Barkley will have at his Pro Day is that while combine throwing sessions are heavily scripted, NFL teams can ask quarterbacks to make specific throws at on-campus tests. Mark Sanchez, another USC alum benefitted greatly from this at his 2009 Pro Day, and you can bet that scouts, coaches, and general managers will want to see just how well Barkley can sling the deep pass -- this was a question even before the shoulder injury, and it certainly will be now.
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