The USC quarterback was supposed to wow the scouts at his Pro Day. The event was supposed to be the cherry on top of what has been a fairy-tale-esque season at the prestigious California University. The big day should have rivaled any and all other pro days, with the exception of Manti Te’o. Matt Barkley throwing the football in the first time in four months was supposed to be the single-most important aspect to boost his draft stock.
Instead, Matt Barkley went out and seemingly underwhelmed in his USC workouts. The events that transpired pretty much told scouts from all 32 teams everything that they already knew about his abilities to play the game at the next level.
Barkley has a reputation of being an ideal fit in a West Coast Offense; a scheme that emphasizes short to intermediate passes in the pocket. Barkley as reaffirmed these theories with his 40-yard dash times, which have been clocked in around the 4.8-4.9 range. Furthermore, Barkley noticeably struggled on throwing deeper passes into the wind. Outstanding receiving prospect Robert Woods actually bailed out his QB with a one-handed grab down the sidelines worthy of a SportsCenter Top 10 nomination.
The ideal fit for a player like Barkley is with a team that does not feature a vertical passing scheme on offense. He has all the talents to succeed in the NFL and can be successful at the next level given his high football IQ. While not incredibly mobile, Barkley can also make the throws rolling out of the pocket, granted they are not downfield. Teams that emphasize the pass and spread receiver outs for underneath routes are definitely taking a flyer after Barkley’s pristine, crisp short passes.
Much like Tyrann Mathieu, Barkley is another one of those hit-or-miss prospects in this year’s draft class. Media personalities and fans alike have varying opinions on the Trojan play-caller. Given the chance and being put in the right system, this is a player that can help lead teams into games in the later months of the season. Only West Virginia standout Geno Smith projects anywhere near the level of his USC counterpart, and there is debate as to who should be taken first. Barkley should be available in round two or later in the draft, though the right team might trade back in the first round should they value Barkley’s skills.
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