2013 NFL Draft spotlight: QB Matt Barkley, USC

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Age: 21
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 230 lbs.
College: USC
Class: Senior

 

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Positives

-Cerebral.

-Quick arm motion. Releases the ball over his head when throwing, which counters any height deficiencies quite nicely. Winds up a little when arm is in back-swing, which lengthens motion a bit, but has a quick follow-through to shorten his action.

-Played in a pro-style offense and was asked to make pre-snap adjustments and multiple reads. Handled it very well and improved annually. Goes through progressions very nicely.

-Won’t be confused for Mike Vick, but moves well behind the line of scrimmage on roll-outs and bootlegs.

-Stays loose on his feet and aware in the pocket; decent avoiding the rush while in the pocket.

-Tight and polished mechanics. He’s developed very few bad habits, if any at all in that regard. Sets feet well, holds ball (with two hands) up near the ear hole, delivery and motion remain consistent.

-A good rhythm passer. Doesn’t get flapped by pressure and hits too often, and keeps mechanics tight throughout games.

-Intermediate accuracy is spot on. Reliable accuracy on the move as well.

-When nothing is available he can scramble back to the line of scrimmage and sometimes gain short-yardage, but wisely slides to avoid contact — knows his limitations as a runner.

-Above-average play-action game. Sells the run pretty well and catches backside defenders off-balance occasionally.

-Will stand tall and take hits to deliver passes. Doesn’t often let pressure affect his rhythm.

-Has a killer instinct; not afraid to make tough throws or take calculated risks down field.

-Spins it well with solid consistency. He throws a very catchable football.

-Utilizes the “pump-fake” effectively.

-Quality touch when throwing fades and open fly routes.

-Timing is good, and does a nice job leading receivers on crossing routes for the most part.

-Ball placement: typically in safe locations. Minimized interceptions in 2011 by placing his passes where defenders can’t make a play on them. The majority of the time, he will to choose to overthrow a receiver on a risky matchup as opposed to trying to force it into danger.

-A leader with a calm and stoic demeanor; became a captain as a true Sophomore and will leave USC as the school’s first-ever 3-time captain.

-Heralded high school recruit who was near-mechanically polished before beginning his collegiate football career.

 

Negatives/Questions

-While he can get the ball deep, Barkley lacks an “elite” power-arm and will have to rely more on his intelligence when he gets to the next level than he already does now.

-Accuracy on his deep ball lacks true consistency. Something he must continue to work on.

-Has the tendency to over-compensate on some passes and occasionally overthrows targets from intermediate distance.

-Only an average athlete; not capable of scrambling or running away from many defenders.

-Doesn’t always take sacks when it is the smartest choice to do so; occasionally throwing dangerously when attempting to avoid a loss.

-Passes can rise on him a little bit in mid-short range distance from time-to-time.

-Stature and dimensions are only average.

-Injury notes: prior to 2010 spring, he had minor surgery on his right (throwing) wrist — which the school said was to relieve stiffness and clean up inflammation / In 2010 he suffered a sprained ankle in a loss to Oregon State and missed the Notre Dame game.

 

Final Thoughts

A naturally talented and intelligent individual both on and off the field, it’s no surprise why many have Matt Barkley projected to be the 2013 draft’s 1st overall pick. While he lacks the superior birth-given athletic qualities of Cam Newton or Robert Griffin, his notably advanced football IQ and overall polish ensures his status as a top draft prospect with the potential to top the quarterback rankings this season. The elite level supporting cast and stellar receiving core has helped him at times, but it is a stretch, to me, to consider that a negative. He began preparation for the NFL while still in high school; tutored by premier quarterback coach Steve Clarkson — who branded Barkley as a “cross” between Hall of Fame passer Joe Montana and (future Hall of Famer) Tom Brady. Barkley has some loose similarities to Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford — an equally limited athlete with a touted football acumen and experience in a college pro-style offense — and appears to be a reliable young quarterback with the ability to play through pressure-packed situations in the near future. Provided he can continue to develop at the rate he has been each year and become more consistent in the deep passing game, Matt Barkley can certainly be the first player taken in 2013; he’s the early leader out of the gate after having semi-unexpectedly gone back to school for his Senior campaign. That being said, Barkley doesn’t have a ton to gain this season, but that alone will be a significant test of his mental fortitude. One that will not be lost on any scouts and evaluators throughout the new pre-draft process.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

-DC

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