Matt Barkley Could Start in Philly, but Recent Draft History Isn't on His Side

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 13, 2013

May 10, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles fourth round draft pick quarterback Matt Barkley (2) addresses the media during rookie minicamp at the Philadelphia Eagles NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Those in Michael Vick's corner seem convinced that Vick will be the man under center for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. And while Vick probably enters the offseason program with an edge on the competition, the reality is that the starting quarterback job is wide open. 

Vick has missed 14 starts due to injury over the last three years and was outplayed last year by rookie Nick Foles...who wasn't even particularly good in relief. The Eagles gave Vick a new contract earlier this offseason, but it's one they can walk away from. And with Foles on the roster and with Chip Kelly bringing in former Pac-10/Pac-12 stars Dennis Dixon and Matt Barkley, there's a lot to be determined.

Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote on Sunday that he wouldn't be surprised to see Barkley land that No. 1 spot on the depth chart. Kelly and Co. traded up to the top spot of Round 4 in order to add the seasoned USC product to the roster, which is why I share McLane's sentiment here. 

There are some pertinent reasons to support Barkley's candidacy, among them his decision-making, accuracy, and moxie. There is also his competition, two capable but hardly insurmountable quarterbacks who have yet to put their stamp on the position.

So who's to say Barkley can't beat out Michael Vick and Nick Foles? The Southern Cal quarterback may have several factors going against him, but he does have one clear advantage over his competitors: He is the only one Kelly brought to the Eagles.

McLane also notes that fourth-round quarterbacks don't historically become NFL starters, especially as rookies. Let's go back in time to get a better feel for how rookies drafted in Barkley's range have traditionally fared.

As you can see, of the 19 quarterbacks selected within 24 spots of Barkley in either direction, only three have been true success stories. And even Orton has been a backup just about as often as he's been a starter. If Barkley turns out just like Orton, I'd imagine that would be disappointing for Eagles fans. 

The two true big-time successes on the above chart were drafted higher than Barkley. Therefore, based on what has happened over the last 10 years, this means there's less than an 11 percent chance (two out of 19) that he becomes a franchise quarterback. Only eight of the 19 have started more than 10 games in total. 

Only Orton and Wilson started from Day 1 (Orton due to injury), and only those two plus McCoy and Edwards started at least half of their rookie seasons. Furthermore, Orton, McCoy and Edwards had just 22 touchdown passes, 30 interceptions and a combined passer rating of 66.9 as rookies. 

This list was a lot uglier before Wilson came in and spruced it up in 2012. Few have been terrible (the group as a whole has a 7-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio), but few seem as though they were worth a third- or fourth-round pick.

Will Barkley defy the odds? That's one of many exciting questions Eagles fans are asking entering this new era.