Matt Barkley

Matt Barkley scouting report


Matt Barkley QB USC #7
Ht: 6’2″
Wt: 230

Size/Athleticism: Average height. Tall enough that it’s not a concern, appears to have no issues seeing the whole field from the behind his linemen. Enough athleticism to move around in the pocket, but not a threat to take off running. Rarely leaves the pocket on his own, but looks good on designed rollouts and is capable of throwing on the run.

Arm strength/Accuracy: Arm strength is adequate, but nothing special. When given time to set his feet he can make all the throws, but he lacks the elite arm strength to still put enough zip on the ball to remain as effective when pressured. Accuracy is adequate to above average on short and intermediate routes, but breaks down considerably on deeper routes. Even when given time to set his feet, his deeper throws (beyond 15 yards) are consistently wild. And he’ll unleash some wild throws from time to time, missing the downfield target by a good three to five yards.

Footwork/Release: Solid fundamentals all around. When not under pressure, he’s about as polished as you can expect from a college quarterback. Displays consistent footwork and stands tall in the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield at all times. Has an impressively quick release. He’s rarely sacked, and a big reason for that is his ability to get rid of the football quickly and efficiently when the pocket starts to close in around him.

Decision making: Does a fantastic job going through his reads. For the most part, he’s very patient and clearly has a firm grasp on USC’s offense. He’s also fairly poised under pressure. When the pocket begins to collapse he stands tall, moving within the pocket when necessary, and keeps his eyes downfield. However, under extreme pressure – typically once a defender gets a hand on him – he has a tendency to make some awful decisions. He needs to learn how to hang on to the football and just take a sack, rather than throw the ball up for grabs (see pick-six vs ASU in 2011 for a great example of this).

Intangibles: Smart player on and off the field. Coaches speak very highly of him and he seems to be respected by teammates for his leadership ability. Has caused some minor controversies with comments he’s made to the media (a few examples: called Vontaze Burfict a dirty player, called out Notre Dame coaches for quitting during 2011 game, arrogant comments after first game of freshman year).

Durability: Missed final few games of his senior year with a shoulder injury. Offseason workouts may be limited due to his recovery.

Comments: Barkley may be the most polished quarterback in the 2013 class, which should earn him a spot in the 1st round. However, he isn’t the can’t-miss prospect that many made him out to be before the season. He has some physical limitations, which puts his ceiling much lower than some other highly touted prospects. In some ways he reminds me of Chad Pennington – a very steady, reliable quarterback but one who is limited physically. I don’t expect Barkley to ever develop into an elite quarterback, but he definitely has the tools to be an average starter (like Pennington) at the next level.


Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2013 1 Comment

Breaking down Matt Barkley vs Notre Dame

This is the third game I’ve charted of Matt Barkley, and I’m starting to get a pretty strong idea of where his strengths and weaknesses lie. So in this piece I’ll breakdown the game and then provide some overall analysis of where he stands heading into the 2012 season.

As always, you can download the chart of this game here.

Downfield Accuracy
This category has been the primary focus with Barkley because it’s the one glaring weakness in his game. Through the first two games charted, Barkley had an accuracy rate beyond 15 yards of just 45.6 percent – meaning over the half of his deep balls were uncatchable.

Against Notre Dame, however, Barkley put together a solid performance, throwing an accurate pass on seven of his 10 throws beyond 15 yards.

This type of performance was definitely the exception rather than the rule for Barkley in 2011, but it does demonstrate his ability to be effective when throwing downfield. Now he just needs to demonstrate the ability to consistently turn in that type of performance in 2012.

Decision Making Under Pressure
I touched on this subject in my review of Barkley’s performance against Arizona State. Barkley does fairly well under pressure, but once the pocket collapses on top of him and he’s starting to get wrapped up, he panics. Twice against Arizona State he threw a pass up for grabs as he was being tackled, one of which was picked off and returned for a touchdown.

Against Notre Dame, it was more of the same. Three times Barkley gets wrapped up and throws up a prayer. Luckily for USC, Barkley actually completed one of these and the other two fell incomplete.

Here’s a great example of Barkley throwing the ball up for grabs late in the game. If you listen to the audio, Mike Mayock actually praises Barkley for getting rid of the football, but I have to disagree based on what I’ve seen in previous games. Barkley has shown that he’s not seeing the whole field on these last-second panic throws. Instead, he’s just getting rid of the football, with little regard for where the defenders are in relation to where and how hard he’s capable of throwing it.

This should be a very easy issue to fix, all he needs to do is hang on to the football and take a sack – and I’m guessing Barkley realizes his mistake almost immediately after he throws the ball. But in those moments of pressure instincts take over, and clearly Barkley needs to have the concept of ball security drilled into his head his offseason.

Some final thoughts on Barkley
While breaking down Barkley’s performances I’ve probably come across as overly critical, but there are a few reasons for that. For starters, I want to debunk the myth that Barkley is the slam-dunk No. 1 overall selection for 2013. He is not Andrew Luck and nothing is guaranteed for him.

But another reason for the criticism is actually due to the fact that the USC coaching staff trusts him more than most quarterbacks. He’s running a more complicated offense than Logan Thomas at Virginia Tech and, as a result, he’s being forced to make more difficult decisions. This draws attention to his flaws, but, in the long run, will be a valuable learning experience for him.

I still view Barkley as a 1st-round prospect entering the 2012 season, but that’s contingent on him continuing to develop. His downfield accuracy and his decision making under pressure are two issues which stand out from his 2011 performance and the USC coaching staff has undoubtedly noticed the same mistakes. If Barkley continues to develop in these areas and shows improvement in 2012, he will solidify his place in the 1st round and likely be in the top-10 discussion. However, if we see the same 2011 Barkley with minimal improvement, I will have a hard time giving him anything higher than a late 1st-round grade.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2013 NFL Draft Leave a comment

Breaking down Matt Barkley vs Arizona State (2011)

In preparation for the upcoming college football season, I’ve been breaking down games from some of the top draft-eligible prospects for the 2013 draft class. First up were two games of Logan Thomas, and now we’ve moved on to Matt Barkley. In the first game I charted for Barkley against Stanford he looked like a potential 1st-round pick, but also demonstrated some flaws which could cause for a fall once scouts spend more time dissecting his game. I was tipped off by a twitter follower that his game vs Arizona State further exposed some issues, so that’s where we’ll go next.


Barkley has the talent, but is far from a finished product

As always, you can download the full chart of Barkley’s performance right here.

Downfield Accuracy
In the Stanford game, I was most disappointed by Barkley’s inaccuracy down the field. He completed just 3 of 12 passes beyond 15 yards and only two of the incompletions were accurate throws.

Unfortunately, Barkley’s performance against Arizona State wasn’t much better. He completed just 4 of 12 passes beyond 15 yards and only two incompletions were on the mark, one of which was still arguably a poor decision as it was tipped and could have been intercepted.

A downfield accuracy rate of 50 percent isn’t terrible, especially considering two of the incompletions were 40-yard bombs which have a low success rate, but it does raise some concerns. Many of Barkley’s throws weren’t just off the mark, they were wild and completely uncatchable. Forcing a receiver to adjust is one thing, but giving him no chance at all is far more concerning.

For a good example of the errant throws Barkley is capable of unleashing, take a look at these two throws which just so happen to come on consecutive dropbacks (a few run plays occurred in between).

Decision Making
Another issue which gets raised in this game is Barkley’s decision-making ability. He throws two interceptions in this game, both of which left me scratching my head.

Here’s the first interception, an attempted quick slant which gets picked off by Vontaze Burfict.

I’m really not sure what to say about this play. Clearly Barkley is reacting to the linebacker coming from his blind side, but Barkley still has more than enough time to set his feet and fire a quick strike to Robert Woods cutting across the middle. Instead, he leaps off his back foot and attempts some sort of fadeaway throw which lands in the arms of Burfict. I would much rather see Barkley and take a sack on this play rather than attempt to force the ball using poor mechanics.

The second interception occurs mostly out of desperation, with USC trailing late in the game. Once again Arizona State brings pressure and this time actually gets to Barkley. As he’s being wrapped up, he attempts to float the ball to a receiver in the flat.

Once again, this is simply an inexcusable decision. USC is down two touchdowns with just over six minutes remaining, a difficult but not insurmountable deficit. But by throwing this interception, which gets returned for a touchdown, Barkley seals the Trojans fate.

On a positive note, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Barkley’s mobility. USC seems to use designed rollouts three to five times per game, and Barkley excels on these plays. He isn’t a threat to take off running, but he’s more than capable of moving outside the pocket and throwing on the run. His modest arm strength limits his range while on the move, but he has shown the ability to maintain his accuracy on the run on short and intermediate routes.

Next up I’ll take a look at Barkley’s performance against Notre Dame. Look for that sometime late this week or over the weekend.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2013 NFL Draft Leave a comment

Breaking down Matt Barkley vs Stanford (2011)

USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley is the consensus top draft-eligible quarterback in the 2013 class, and an early favorite to be the No. 1 overall selection. Over the next few weeks I’ll be charting some of his games from 2011, focusing on the ones against top competition. I’ll kick things off with the Trojans overtime battle against Stanford. You can download the excel sheet of Barkley’s detailed stats and notes on each drop-back here.

Here are a few notes on the game and what stood out about his performance:

Barkley is the consensus No. 1 QB, but far from the next Andrew Luck

Downfield Accuracy
This is the one major weakness in Barkley’s game. Despite having two elite weapons at his disposal in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, Barkley completed just three of 12 passes thrown 15 or more yards down the field in this game. And of the nine incompletions, only two were catchable, giving him a downfield accuracy percentage of just 41.7%. For the sake of comparison, in the two Virginia Tech games which I’ve charted so far, Logan Thomas has a downfield accuracy percentage of 85.7% (12 of 14).

While every quarterback is entitled to a bad game every so often, this has been a trend throughout Barkley’s career. As I continue to chart more games, I expect his 5-12 performance in downfield accuracy to be among the worst, but I also don’t expect to find any perfect 8-for-8 games, as Logan Thomas did against Miami.

Dealing with Pressure
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Barkley’s game is his ability to handle pressure. In this game Barkley completed 13 of 19 passes under pressure, and often did so by buying himself an extra second or two by moving around within the pocket. He does an exceptional job keeping his eyes down the field, even as the pocket is collapsing around him. On one of his most impressive plays from the game, Barkley is forced out of the pocket and hits an open receiver on the run on a comeback route near the sideline. It was one of just two throws he made outside the pocket, excluding designed rollouts.

Quick Release
What Barkley lacks in raw talent (arm strength, athleticism), he makes up for in fundamentals. One of the reasons he handles pressure so well is due to the speed at which he gets rid of the football. We’ve seen plenty of lead-footed quarterbacks rank among the most difficult to sack over the years (Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner, for example) and their success hinged on their quick release. This skill should allow Barkley to make a relatively smooth transition to the NFL compared to a quarterback with an elongated throwing motion. Every rookie quarterback is slow to react to NFL defenses at first, but the ones who can get rid of the ball quickly will survive.

This play offers a good example of how quickly Barkey can get rid of the football. While it isn’t a typical play for Barkley, as he rolls out to his right, it does show his ability to hang on until the last second before firing a quick strike just before getting hit.

Final Thoughts
Had Barkley entered the 2012 draft, he would have been the most polished quarterback after Andrew Luck, and he will likely be among the most NFL-ready prospects (at any position) in 2013. That said, he has some clear limitations. At this point, I don’t hesitate to give Barkley a 1st-round grade, but he’s a solid notch below Andrew Luck and even Robert Griffin. I view Barkley as a Matt Hasselbeck or Chad Pennington-type quarterback – a guy who will likely be given the dreaded “game manager” label, but one who is perfectly capable of stepping up in clutch moments and carrying his team to victory. While he’ll probably be a top-10 pick, at this point I’m leaning toward giving him a mid-1st-round grade entering his senior year.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2013 NFL Draft Leave a comment

Matt Barkley scouting report

Matt Barkley QB USC #7
Ht: 6’2″
Wt: 220
Adequate height; good overall size and strength. Adequate arm strength; can make all the necessary throws. Patient in the pocket; does a nice job going through is progressions. Has a nice touch on his throws; knows when to take something off and when he needs to fire it in there. Generally a good decision maker. Smooth delivery and a very quick release. Three years of experience in a pro-style offense. Team leader on the field; teammates and coaches all seem to respect his leadership.
Limited mobility; won’t make plays with his feet. Accuracy is adequate, but not elite. Arm strength is nothing special, but shouldn’t be a major concern. Does not look good throwing on the run; fundamentals break down and his accuracy is erratic. Has caused some controversies off the field (e.g. called Vontaze Burfict a dirty player); needs to learn when to keep his mouth shut when speaking to media.
Barkley lacks the elite tools (mainly accuracy) to be in a category with Andrew Luck, but he has everything he needs to succeed as a starter at the next level. I would be surprised if he ever reached the Brady/Manning/Brees level of success, but he has what it takes to be in that next tier with guys like Cutler/Rivers. Some of his comments made off the field raise a red flag about his ego, and should cause teams to ask some tough questions of him and USC’s coaching staff to learn about who he is as a person. But assuming no further red flags are raised, this should be a minor issue that can be attributed to immaturity.
2011 vs UCLA
2011 vs Oregon

2011 vs Arizona 
2011 vs Arizona State
2011 vs Minnesota
2011 vs California
2011 vs Washington
2011 vs Colorado
2010 vs Stanford 


Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Scouting Reports - 2012 Leave a comment