Is Matt Barkley Worth a Top-10 Draft Pick?
The former USC Trojans signal-caller didn't throw at the NFL Scouting Combine this week due to a shoulder injury he suffered during the 2012 season, so his draft stock remains a wide-ranging mystery.
Last year, Ryan Tannehill, a somewhat raw but undoubtedly talented quarterback, went in the Top 10 to the surprise of some.
In 2011, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder were selected much higher than many expected; going respectively No. 8, No. 10 and No. 12 overall.
Tannehill pieced together a fine rookie season, showing glimpses of immense potential while struggling in some occasions.
Locker, Gabbert and Ponder have been relatively underwhelming to begin their careers.
Everyone can agree that Barkley, from a scouting perspective, isn't the next Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.
Though it's prime smoke-screen season, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller did his job when tweeting this somewhat astonishing information that was given to him during his time in Indianapolis:
Text I received from a scout this morning: Matt Barkley will not get past the Arizona #Cardinals at No. 7 overall.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 24, 2013
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com echoed Miller's report in a recent article, writing the following:
It's an annual occurrence at the combine: This week in Indy always spawns several rumors. One such rumor has the Cardinals being very interested in Barkley. I've been told this exact same piece of information from a few different sources. According to one source, the Cardinalswere extremely impressed with the USC quarterback during his interview this week.
So, is Barkley worthy of a top-10 selection?
When watching the 6'3'', 227-pound Barkley, many aspects of his game stood out.
He seemed to have a convincing grasp of the pro-style offense he operated during his career at USC.
He confidently delivered the football to all levels of the field from the pocket with a smooth release and did so with the above-average accuracy.
Barkley wasn't asked to read the entire field—usually just half of it—but he went through those progressions well and typically made what looked to be the correct decision.
Much has been made about his arm strength or lack thereof.
While he can't flick the ball 60 yards down the field with ease, the knocks on his arm strength are, to me, overblown.
From a clean pocket, Barkley made all the throws with what appeared to be necessary velocity and timing.
Most of his interceptions came when other defenders broke off their assigned coverage to undercut routes.
Barkley made many precision passes around 50 yards down the field and fit many throws into tight windows down the seam.
However, with pressure in his face, his relatively "weaker" arm could get him into trouble at the professional level.
Behind a solid offensive line, he can be surgical.
Barkley is a decent athlete, enough so that he could develop into a great pocket drifter. His awareness between the tackles could be improved, but some of the sacks he took in 2012 were nearly impossible to avoid.
As a four-year starter with the Trojans, he has vast experience, and it'll be interesting to see if the ball comes out of his hand with more zip at his pro day if his shoulder is completely healed by then.
Based on what the tape shows and his NFL readiness, Barkley undoubtedly is worth of a top-10 selection. His offensive line was exposed against good defensive lines in 2012, and that led to the majority of his regression from a spectacular 2011 campaign.
His arm isn't tremendous, but I just don't see it as a major liability.
Is Matt Barkley worth a top-10 pick?
Accuracy and decision-making are the most important quarterbacking attributes, and Barkley thrives in those areas.
The time he spent leading a top-flight collegiate program in a classic professional offense should pay off when he takes the field in the NFL—his football intellect is where you want it to be as a rookie.
Also, it's important to remember that quarterback is the most vital position in football—it definitely should have the highest positional value on draft boards, thus helping his case to be a top-10 selection.
He probably doesn't have as much upside as Ryan Tannehill, and he certainly isn't a transcendent prospect like Andrew Luck and RG3 were a year ago, but with a good offensive line, Barkley can be productive early and enjoy an accomplished NFL career.
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