On Matt Barkley and why he is the toughest quarterback to evaluate in the 2013 NFL Draft

Ezra Shaw

There is a common misconception surrounding USC quarterback Matt Barkley.

Throughout his inconsistent senior season, Barkley has been referred to as the most "pro-ready" quarterback in the draft due to his four years of experience in a "pro-style" offense. While Geno Smith is criticized for being in a spread system, Barkley is praised for the system he plays in. But the only thing about USC's offense that is more "pro-style" than other offense around the league is that Barkley was playing under center consistently.

Other than that simple fact, USC's offense hasn't necessarily prepared Barkley for the NFL, and it has actually made it really difficult to evaluate him as an NFL prospect.

When evaluating a quarterback prospect, it's important to see him make a wide variety of throws, especially difficult throws down the field and into tight windows. That's tough with a lot of college quarterbacks, given the quality of the defenses and the style of offense some teams play.

Evaluating Barkley has been particularly difficult, though. While many label the Trojans' offense as a pro-style scheme, the majority of Barkley's passes were screen passes or quick routes within ten yards of the line of scrimmage. Barkley doesn't have a huge arm, and it's even tougher to get a read on his arm strength when the sample size of deep passes is so limited.

The talent surrounding Barkley makes him even more difficult to evaluate. USC has two of the best wide receivers in the country in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. They inflate Barkley's numbers by bailing him out with great catches and picking up yards after the catch.

Barkley definitely has redeeming qualities as a passer. He has sound throwing mechanics and gets good placement on his throws. His footwork on his drop backs could use some work, but Barkley is a solid athlete capable of maneuvering around the pocket and making plays on the move.

However, some of the key components that go into NFL quarterback play are the hardest ones to evaluate with Barkley. Can he fit the ball into tight windows? Can he make all of the throws? How will he handle less than ideal circumstances in the NFL?

None of this is to say Barkley can't be successful in the NFL. It's just really hard to tell, and that's what makes him such a risky pick.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.