Matt Barkley QB USC #7
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.