Matt Barkley to Philadelphia: How Does Quarterback Fit with Eagles?
Just a year ago, USC quarterback Matt Barkley would have been in a tough competition with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III for the first overall pick in the NFL draft.
He made the decision to return for his senior year of college, where the Trojans were expected to compete for a national title and Barkley had Heisman expectations surrounding him. A poor year ultimately cost him three rounds (and millions of dollars) in the draft, as he was grabbed by the Eagles with the first pick of the fourth round.
To say that Barkley is an interesting fit for Chip Kelly's offense is a massive understatement. This is a shocking development, as it clearly shows that Kelly does not need a running quarterback to succeed in the National Football League.
Barkley brings four years as a starter at USC to the NFL. He has experience playing in an NFL-style offense. He is intelligent and able to make quick decisions at the line of scrimmage, something that Vick has been, to put it bluntly, a disaster with since he signed with the Eagles.
Barkley doesn't have a strong arm, but he is very accurate and has exceptional footwork, which helps him in making even the toughest throws.
Kelly knows Barkley very well after coaching against him when he was at the University of Oregon. If he thinks Barkley is a better fit for the Eagles' offense than Ryan Nassib or Tyler Wilson or Matt Scott, then I'm not going to argue.
The big question now is whether Barkley will be a starter at any point in the 2013 season. Kelly says that the quarterback battle is wide open, meaning veteran Michael Vick, last year's rookie Nick Foles and former University of Oregon standout Dennis Dixon will compete with Barkley for the starting position.
I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Barkley come away with the starting position. I really wouldn't. The Eagles are in complete rebuilding mode, and expectations in 2013 don't involve a playoff berth or even a winning season.
Think about the Seattle Seahawks in 2012, who drafted Russell Wilson in the third round after trading for Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn. They also had veteran Tarvaris Jackson on the roster. Head coach Pete Carroll declared the training camp battle to be wide open, but just about everybody assumed that Flynn would be the guy to run the offense. That's not what happened, though, as Wilson started all 16 games in 2012 and led the Seahawks to within a field goal of the NFC Championship Game.
Now I don't necessarily expect that to happen with the Eagles and Barkley in 2013 but don't be surprised if he makes the most starts on the team in 2013. Stranger things have happened. Kelly clearly has to know that Vick is on the decline and Foles is likely trade bait.
Things will likely become clearer over the next few months, but training camp and the preseason will definitely be interesting. That's a guarantee.
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