USC Pro Day: Questions Still Remain About Matt Barkley Going into NFL Draft

S. DixonContributor IIIMarch 27, 2013

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 17:  Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans drops back to pass against the UCLA Bruins in the second half at the Rose Bowl on November 17, 2012 in Pasadena, California. UCLA defeated USC 38-28.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Matt Barkley was once considered to be a first-round pick but his draft stock plummeted during his senior season because of injuries and inconsistent play. Wednesday featured an opportunity for Barkley to prove himself in front of NFL scouts at USC’s pro day. Barkley had the chance to answer questions about his athleticism, arm strength and accuracy after last season’s shoulder injury.

No one expected Barkley to impress scouts with his athleticism. Barkley ran a 4.99 and a 4.87 40 yard-dash with a rather unimpressive shuttle time. Those are not the quickest times in the world but during ESPN’s broadcast, analyst Ed Cunningham mentioned the poor footing the turf provided for every prospect, not just Matt Barkley.

It was obvious that Barkley struggled with the footing because Cunningham mentioned that he came to a complete stop to maintain balance during the shuttle drill. It might be the case that scouts will disregard Barkley’s slow time. However, questions about Barkley’s lack of athleticism will continue to linger going into April’s NFL Draft.

Regardless of Barkley’s slow times and poor balance on a slick field, every NFL scout and media member traveled to Los Angeles for the purpose of watching Matt Barkley throw the football. Arm strength and accuracy are some of the most important skills when evaluating a quarterback prospect.

The anticipation grew throughout the day as other players completed their position drills.  Barkley was treated as the main event, which meant that his passing drills came at the very end of the pro day.

Finally, after waiting nearly two hours, Barkley began throwing and he started off impressively. He improved vastly when it comes to throwing on the run and according to analyst Ed Cunningham, his throwing mechanics were sharper than anyone expected.

However, as his workout progressed, Barkley’s drop-backs displayed minor flaws. Those flaws do not seem major but as Cunningham stated during the broadcast, a player should perform up to a near-perfect standard in a workout setting. It will only get harder in a NFL game setting where players are bigger, faster and stronger than anything Matt Barkley has faced so far in his career. Matt Barkley was also inaccurate on one of his deep throws, which could allow scouts to question his deep ball accuracy.

A first-round caliber workout for a quarterback prospect is a perfect workout. Minor mistakes turn into major mistakes during an NFL game. Barkley was impressive on almost all 64 passes he made but fans, scouts and media should take his workout in stride. He completed passes against no defenders. Questions still remain regarding Barkley’s arm strength, accuracy and mechanics when he begins to face NFL defenses.