Matt Barkley's Pro Day Not Good Enough

Jared SmolaContributor IIMarch 27, 2013

Questions remain about Matt Barkley's arm strength
Questions remain about Matt Barkley's arm strengthStephen Dunn/Getty Images

Pro days are meant to boost a quarterback's draft stock.  The entire workout is scripted.  He's throwing to his own receivers.  And there's no pass rush or coverage.

JaMarcus Russell turned in the best performance ESPN's Todd McShay had ever seen in a decade of pro days.  We all know how that turned out.

At first glance, one might think USC's Matt Barkley’s pro day went swimmingly.  Only six of 62 passes hit the ground.  And two were drops by his receivers, according to USA Today.

But those numbers are average.  To put them in perspective, West Virginia’s Geno Smith completed 60 of his 64 throws (with two drops) at his workout.  Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib went 69 of 75.

Barkley at least showed that the throwing shoulder he separated in November is healthy.   He also displayed the short- to-mid-range accuracy that stands as one of his best attributes.

He did very little to answer questions about his arm strength, though.  Most of his misses came on deep balls.  And his throws outside the numbers fluttered and lacked zip.

"You just want to see a little more giddy up, to use a baseball term," former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah said afterward, as reported by  "You want to see a little more life on his fastball."

"His arm strength is what I thought it was,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock noted.  “It's good.  It's just not elite."

So after all the hoopla, we’re back to where we started with Barkley.  He’s a highly accurate quarterback with a so-so arm.


Where that leaves him in the overall draft picture remains to be seen.

Questions also linger about Barkley's durability.  On top of last year's shoulder injury, he also dealt with wrist and ankle problems while at USC.  The NFL game is rougher and tougher than anything he faced in college.

The majority of talent evaluators—both in the media and NFL—still have no better than a late-first-round grade on Barkley.  And many view him as a second-round talent.

That doesn't mean he won’t be selected in the first round of April's draft.  In today's pass-happy NFL, quarterbacks are more highly coveted than ever before.  And that pushes them up teams' big boards.

Just look at Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder a couple of years ago.  All three guys went much earlier than expected simply because of supply and demand.  Quarterback-needy teams saw the quarterback prospect pool drying up and felt the need to make a move.  

There's a good chance the same thing happens with Barkley this April.  He could still be the second quarterback off the board behind Geno Smith.  The Buffalo Bills might feel obligated to take him eighth overall.  Or maybe they trade back up into the late first round if he's still sitting there.  The Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders are a couple of other teams that could maneuver around to draft Barkley.


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