The Philadelphia Eagles drafted USC QB Matt Barkley with the first pick in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Apparently they feared that the Chiefs may take him so they worked out a deal with the Jaguars to move up to the first pick (only gave up a seventh-rounder).
And we thought we knew Chip Kelly, huh?
I figured that the Eagles might take a quarterback in Round 4 as I had them selecting the raw, but athletic Matt Scott in my mock draft. However, Kelly surprised everyone by going with a slow-footed pocket passer in Barkley.
One thing is for sure, we can now seriously believe that Kelly doesn’t necessarily prefer a running QB and that he will adapt his offense around his players.
To his credit, Kelly has maintained since Day 1 that he doesn’t want a “running back who can throw the ball”, but rather, “a quarterback who has the ability to run.”
We’ve always took that as a nice way to say he wants a QB who can both run and pass, but the emphasis has been at looking at only the guys who can run. Therefore, if a QB couldn’t run, he likely wouldn’t be an option for Kelly’s offense.
Kelly’s bread-and-butter at Oregon was the read-option attack. The only way you can run a read-option is with a QB whom defenses have to respect as a running threat.
That’s why the selection of Barkley came as a complete surprise to just about everyone.
In case you’re wondering if Barkley even has the slightest ability to run, check out his rushing stats:
2012: -72 yards rushing on 43 attempts
2011: 14 yards on 28 attempts
2010: -17 yards on 34 attempts
2009: -38 yards on 45 attempts
That’s a career total of -113 yards on 150 carries and an average of -.75 yards per carry.
Well, at least that’s a little better than Nick Foles’ college career rushing total of -289 yards! Next to Foles, Barkley may look like Mike Vick.
Speaking of Foles, it appears that Kelly has been sincere all along in that he likes him and wants to see him compete for a starting job rather than trade him.
And because of that, along with the selection of Barkley, it may mean that we can scratch the read-option offense idea that we all thought Chip would run here.
Michael Vick is the only QB on the Eagles’ roster with a realistic chance of starting that can run the read-option attack. And that could still be the case, at least for the 2013 season.
However, unless Vick wins the starting job and then the Eagles have a good season with him at the helm running the read-option, he is not the future of this team. The future is either Barkley or Foles.
Since Kelly obviously didn’t draft Barkley for his running ability, he must have drafted him for other reasons and with another purpose in mind. Perhaps this is why he drafted him:
12,367 career passing yards, 116 TD passes and a 147.8 career average passer rating. Plus, he’s universally acknowledged as a guy that absolutely loves football, is a fierce competitor and excellent leader.
Said Kelly at his press conference after the draft (courtesy of Eagles media relations):
“I’m going to steal a quote from [former Cleveland Browns head coach] Sam Rutigliano and he used to say, ‘With a quarterback, it’s like a tea bag. You don’t know what you have until you put it in hot water.’
The first time I saw Matt Barkley, he was a true freshman and he came into Autzen Stadium which is one of the toughest places to play in the world and it didn’t phase him a bit. Matt Barkley was never a freshman, there was just a poise about him, there was a calm about him – those intangible qualities that you really look for. It’s tough to quantify. There’s not a test for it.
Over the course of time, when you watched him play, he’s played through all different sorts of scenarios at USC. He’s just always stood tall and when you meet him, you interview him at the combine, there were a couple kids at the combine that just were kind of off the charts when we interviewed them.
Two of them we had the opportunity to take. Bennie Logan was one of them and Matt Barkley. You came out of there and you were like, ‘Wow. That guy is impressive.’ He’s a competitor, he’s been in big games all through high school and all through college.
He’s handled everything the right way. I just talked to him on the phone when we drafted him. I think a lot of people, you could say, ‘What’s their attitude going to be like?’ He was like, ‘It’s a dream come true.’ I loved competing against him and we’re real excited to have him on our team now.”
He’s said to be the complete opposite than the last few “bust” QBs to come out of USC in Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart in terms of their personality traits.
Kelly also stated he liked Barkley due to his “repetitive accuracy”, which is a description we haven’t been able to give an Eagles QB in a long, long time.
Here is a scouting report on Barkley from Pro Football Weekly:
Positives: Thickly built. Experienced four-year starter in a pro-style offense with progression NFL reads. Terrific football intelligence. Good decision-maker — knows when and where to go with the ball. Throws on balance with a smooth, fluid delivery. Good enough arm strength to connect deep
Can drop it in a bucket and showed improved deep accuracy as a senior. Good short-to-intermediate accuracy and overall anticipation. Tough and will deliver with pressure barreling down — good poise and on-field demeanor.
Can sidestep the rush and manipulate coverage with his eyes. Outstanding intangibles and leadership traits — commands respect from teammates. Rallied comeback wins throughout his career, from the time he was the first freshman to start for a top-5-ranked team since 1975 against Ohio State, to Oregon (2011) and Utah (2012). Very intelligent with an engaging personality. Team tempo-setter. Can elevate a locker room, uplift an organization and represent a franchise with integrity. Very strong support structure. Is a pro’s pro and football is very important to him. Highly determined.
Negatives: Has short arms and average grip strength (student manager was fired for deflating balls). Does not snap it quickly and spiral is not tight. Heavy-footed and cannot improvise or create with his feet. Cannot easily manipulate his arm and throwing platform under duress and the ball dies when he can’t step into it. Does not drive the ball down the field with high RPMs.
Not quick-eyed — many throws are pre-determined at the line, and he will hold the ball too long on some progressions. Can be streaky (see Washington). Never beat Stanford’s pro-style
defense in four years.
Summary: A cool, confident, rhythm passer who suffered as a senior behind a leaky, injured offensive line that left little time to throw. Looked much more comfortable as a junior with an elite left tackle. Is slow-footed and could be more prone to injury in the pros and take some time to adapt to live NFL bullets. Leadership traits, strength of character and football IQ will allow to operate at a high level in a play-action passing game with a clean pocket and a talented cast of receivers. Can become a very solid NFL starter and thrive with a strong supporting cast. A cross between Drew Brees and Colt McCoy.
Speaking of a Drew Brees comparison, the highly regarded film analyst Greg Cosell stated that Barkley’s “ceiling is Drew Brees.” That’s one hell of a ceiling!
However, the comparison to Brees could be a good one. Brees was never known as a guy with a rocket arm, but rather as an accurate passer, quick decision-maker with an excellent football IQ and ability to run and lead an offense.
Instead of having an offense that resembles the Redskins (read-option), Kelly seems to be leaning towards having one that more resembles a mix of the Patriots and Saints. An up-tempo attack that utilizes multiple tight ends and quick passes.
In order to do that, you need a true “quarterback”, as in a guy who has the poise, leadership, mental sharpness, good decision-making, competitiveness and accuracy to run a high-octane NFL offense.
Can Barkley be that guy?
Only time will tell, but the potential is certainly there.