The Philadelphia Eagles stunned the NFL when they selected Matt Barkley with their fourth-round pick. What is shocking about the decision was not just that Barkley had fallen so far, but that the Eagles saw the need to add another young quarterback to their roster when they already have Nick Foles.
It's hard to tell if Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman are looking to use Barkley as trade bait and commit to Foles long-term, or if this move signals a vote of no confidence in Foles and a move in a different direction.
What is also possible is that Kelly is looking to do both. He wants to evaluate two young, talented players, with one eventually becoming his franchise player and one becoming valuable trade bait.
Most likely, neither of the two will start in 2013, as Kelly made a strong effort to retain Michael Vick for one more season. But this year's training camp will be an open competition, and ultimately the best performer in camp will be given the chance to start.
Although, even if Vick is still named the starter at the end of training camp, the battle for the backup quarterback spot will be a tight one and closely watched. It is a very important position, as Vick will almost certainly miss time due to injury.
But which of the two pocket passers would be better qualified to serve as a backup? Here are the pros and cons of both players:
- Very strong arm. Can make all of the throws.
- Quick release. Does not hold onto the ball excessively.
- Smart player, capable of calling audibles before the snap.
- While not mobile, very accurate when sliding on a bootleg.
- Strong NFL preseason performance showed his potential.
- One season of NFL experience and rapport with Eagles offense.
- Seems unfazed by pressure, played well in the game-winning drive against the Buccaneers in 2012.
- Questionable decision-making at times. Some of his turnovers were the result of very poor passes.
- Accuracy is not great, inconsistent at times even on the deep ball.
- Very poor mobility and athleticism. Moves well in the pocket, but one of the slowest quarterbacks in the NFL.
- Sometimes overly cautious. Does not take as many shots downfield as one would like to see from a cannon arm. Dinks and dunks a bit too often.
- Did not win many games in Philadelphia. Despite putting up impressive rookie statistics in 2012, he led the Eagles to just one win.
- Very accurate, capable of squeezing passes into tight windows and hitting receivers in stride.
- Accurate deep ball, despite concerns about overall arm strength.
- Smart player, known for his pre-snap audibles to create mismatches.
- While no NFL experience, experience in a pro-style offense at USC.
- Great intangibles. Tough, unfazed by pressure or by blitzes. Plays well in the clutch.
- Questionable arm strength. Rarely bullets the ball to receivers, and instead tends to loft the ball into their hands. NFL defenders will likely react more quickly than college defenders.
- Throws too many risky passes. He seems sometimes overconfident in his accuracy, as he often squeezes the ball into tight windows but without high velocity. Those passes are often intercepted in the NFL.
- Poor mobility. Possesses some speed and athleticism to escape pass-rushers, but not much of a scrambling threat.
- Injury concerns. Fell far in the NFL draft largely due to a season-ending shoulder injury during his senior year at USC.
Slight Edge: Nick Foles
It's a close call between the two. Both have very high ceilings and fairly low floors. They have very different playing styles.
But Foles will likely get the look due to his experience and the promise he showed in 2012.
Who is most likely to be the long-term starter at quarterback?
While Barkley can hit the Eagles receivers in stride, allowing them the most opportunity to make plays after the catch, Foles' arm strength will allow players like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to continue running deep routes.
With his experience in the NFL and with the Eagles receiving corps, he would be more ready to step up than Barkley, who still needs to familiarize himself with the Eagles offense.
Additionally, Foles' mistakes were not uncommon ones for a rookie quarterback. He was also playing behind an offensive line that lost four of its five starters. He can be expected to improve with another year of development.
Therefore, Foles would get the edge over Barkley, whether that's a backup role or as a starter. However, this could all change once Barkley gets more experience with the Eagles offense in training camp. After a year of grooming, Barkley could be poised to challenge Foles and Vick for the starting job in 2014.