The Philadelphia Eagles selected quarterback Matt Barkley out of USC with the 98th pick overall, and the first pick in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The call from the Eagles came as a shock, but even more of a shock to Barkley was how late he was called by any team in this year’s NFL Draft. After all, Barkley was projected as a top 10 draft pick had he entered the NFL Draft in 2012. He opted to stay at USC to play his senior year in 2012. Why the drastic drop to the 4th round? The drop may actually benefit Barkley in the long run.
Matt Barkley started his collegiate career with USC in 2009. He threw for 2,735 yards, 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions as a freshman. His yards were nearly identical his sophomore year, but great improved his touchdown to interception ratio to 26 to 12. Matt Barkley became arguably the best collegiate quarterback in the country in 2011. He passed for 3,528 yards and an incredible 39 to 7 touchdown to interception ratio. Then he decided to pass on the NFL to play his senior year in 2012. Barkley still played very well, but got injured and did not quite matching his junior season statistics. Nevertheless, he still threw for 36 touchdowns to 15 interceptions.
So why did Barkley drop so far from the first round to the fourth round? Did his drop in production and injury his senior season have that dramatic an effect? Maybe it’s the fact that he is not seen as elite in terms of his height, mobility in the pocket, or arm strength. But none of those changed from last year to this year. Could it be that this year’s draft was deeper in quarterbacks or not as many NFL teams were in search for a quarterback this year compared to last year?
Whatever the reason, the drop to the fourth round could be a great thing in the long run for Barkley. He is familiar with Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly, will have less pressure to step right into the starting quarterback role since he was drafted in the fourth round. Being a first round pick, he most certainly would be expected to step right in and start. Being with the Eagles, he can learn from veteran Michael Vick, and compete with him and second year man Nick Foles. Other quarterbacks currently on the Eagles roster are Dennis Dixon and G.J. Kinne.
Matt Barkley will be more determined than ever to prove other teams they made a mistake in passing him by in the draft. He has tremendous upside with the ability to run a pro style offense. He is accurate with a quick release, and came from an offensive system which designed to move the pocket. This is similar to the system Chip Kelly is expected to showcase in Philadelphia.
In the final analysis, I think Barkley fits into the Philadelphia Eagles system better than NIck Foles, so look for Foles to be traded before training camp. Barkley will be the number two quarterback on the Eagles this season and perhaps get playing time this year due to the fact that Michael Vick rarely stays healthy for an entire season.
How well will Barkley play in the NFL? That remains to be seen. But one thing is certain. Being drafted in the 4th round instead of the top 10 picks overall puts much less pressure on him to perform, which in the end, will help Matt Barkley become the best quarterback he can be.