If, as expected, Matt Barkley is taken with the No. 1 overall selection in next year's draft, the team taking him is headed towards a disappointment.
Barkley is never going to be an elite NFL QB. If he hits his ceiling, he will be an average starter in the pros.
He does not have the physical tools to pull it off. Early in his college career, the biggest knock on Barkley was his decision making.
That has improved by leaps and bounds. In fact, his mental acumen is his biggest plus. However, it has left nothing to hide his true weaknesses. And it all starts with his arm.
Barkley does not have a weak arm, but on the NFL level, it is subpar. It is not on the deep throws where this is going to hurt him.
Barkley can hang up some nice deep passes. He puts a little air under his passes, and he can drop them on target.
It is on the mid-level throws where he is going to struggle. The window to complete outs and crosses in the NFL in tiny. To complete these throws, it takes a combination of arm strength and accuracy.
A QB has to be able to zip the ball in before a CB can get a jump on it, and if they don't have that elite zip, they have to be able to drop it in on an absolute dime.
And that is the other area that will keep Barkley from being elite. He has good accuracy, but it is not a Joe Montana-level of great accuracy.
Barkley has average NFL arm strength, and slightly above-average NFL accuracy, which will combine to make for an average NFL QB—given that he doesn't excel in the next area.
Barkley is not going to beat teams with his feet. He is not a scrambling QB. He does have decent pocket presence and can avoid the sack with smart movement, but he is not going to break the pocket and pick up first downs.
He is a solid thrower on the run, which will help when plays break down, but that will be the extent of his ability to turn broken plays into big plays.
The problem for Barkley is that these are not areas where he will be able to make huge gains. His arm strength, speed and even accuracy are as good, or as close to good as they are going to get.
He is developing into a heady player with good leadership abilities, and this will serve him well, but he will never be considered one of the NFL's elite signal callers.