Saturday, October 22 was my first chance to see Matt Barkley. In a prime time match-up that featured heavy weight prospects (WR Michael Floyd, LB Manti Te’0, OT Matt Kalil), it was Barkley’s performance against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that left the strongest impression on me.
In this game, I saw (and you shall see in the video clip below) an unflappable young man with an advanced football acumen. I couldn’t help but notice how calm he was in the pocket, sidestepping oncoming rushers, resetting his feet, and delivering accurate passes while avoiding sacks. He displayed tremendous touch, throwing a very catch-able ball that the receivers could pluck in stride.
In terms of pro-readiness, Barkley is advanced in two key areas: reading defenses and quarterbacking technique. His technique is polished, from his compact overhead release, down to his solid footwork.
He can throw effectively to either side, and is adept at selling play fakes, as USC tends to run a play-action dominant offense.
What others have said about Barkley:
As a college prospect, Scout.com had this to say about Barkley, their top rated quarterback in the country:
A dropback passer with good mobility inside of the pocket, Barkley has a big time arm. He can hit the deep out as well as anyone in the country while showing exceptional touch on short and intermediate routes. His mechanics are outstanding, and he shows great poise and leadership under pressure. He is a big quarterback that has the frame and toughness to make an early contribution on the next level. The total package. – Scott Kennedy, Scout.com
They also listed among his strengths – accuracy/consistency, intangibles, and arm strength. His weakness was thought to be a lack of mobility/running ability.
Rob Rang of CBS Sports.com in his scouting report:
Arm Strength: Has the ability to make every throw, but has only slightly above average arm strength, overall. Zips short and intermediate routes, but relies more on timing and accuracy, rather than arm strength for the deep out. Only an average deep ball passer.
McShay’s ESPN analysis presently giving a draft grade 0f 91, good for 16 best prospect:
A polished prospect that possesses a high football IQ and shoulders a tremendous amount of responsibility conducting a pro-style offense. Possesses great field awareness and has a thorough understanding of game situations. Processes information quickly both with pre and post-snap. Sees the entire field and consistently can get to second and third progressions. Savvy and can manipulate coverage with pump fakes. Oblivious to the rush and will sit in the pocket and make throw under duress. Calm and executed well working against pressure. Can anticipate throwing lanes. Needs to cut down on interception total. To his defense several INTs were due to a lack of communication or drops by receivers.
From Mel Kiper’s Big Board, which currently ranks Barkley as the 10th best NFL prospect:
After a so-so effort at Cal, Barkley impressed against the Irish. He has shown a great growth curve, a better ball and throws well on the move. Good, not great, arm. Even as NFL expands in the gun, Barkley’s pro-style skills are helpful.
The above featured excerpts underscore some of the perceived strengths and weaknesses of Mr. Barkley.
You can see that arm strength is cause for debate among the media evaluators. Most of these writers believe that Barkley lacks elite arm strength, and I would agree. But having “elite” arms strength is more a luxury than a necessity. The important thing is to get the ball from point A to point B in the given time window. Won’t a quarterback with average arm strength who gets the ball out early achieve the same result ( a completed pass) as a QB who hesitates but has a monster arm?
Besides arm strength, evaluators are unanimous in their praise of the other facets of Barkley’s game.
Looking forward to April, what does this do for Barkley?
Quarterbacks are always the hot commodity, and Barkley looks to have the requisite skills to go within the top 10 picks, especially if he continues playing like he did Saturday. Maybe I like this guy more than most, but I simply cannot say enough good things about Matt Barkley.