Photo of Matt Barkley
Grade
82.0 ?
  • 6'2" Height
  • 30 5/8" Arm Length
  • 227LBS. Weight
  • 10 1/8" Hands

Overview

Barkley was a high school All-American at well-known California program Mater Dei as a senior, following up a junior season where he was the nation’s Gatorade High School Player of the Year. He finished his studies there a semester early in order to start his career with the Trojans. Having that spring experience helped him as a true freshman, as he took over the starting job after Aaron Corp suffered an injury (which eventually led Corp to transfer to Richmond) and has not relinquished it since.



He started 36 games over the past three years, losing just two to injury (2009 vs. Washington with a bruised shoulder, 2010 vs. Notre Dame with a high ankle sprain). He ended his career with school passing records for yardage and touchdowns –- no mean feat at a school where Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart once took snaps. Barkley improved his touchdown-to-interception ratio (15-14 in 2009, 26-12 in 2010, 39-7 in 2011), as well as his completion percentage (59.9 percent, 62.6 percent, 69.1 percent), in his first three seasons. His 2011 season included a school-record 468 yards passing over Arizona and two six-touchdown efforts against Colorado and UCLA, earning him USC’s team MVP award. He also garnered second-team All-Pac-12 and third-team Associated Press All-American honors, as well as help him finish sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting and as a finalist for the Manning and Wuerffel Awards.



Despite all of those honors, Barkley decided to stay at USC for his senior season. A year that began with Heisman and National Championship expectations was marred by a drop in efficiency (63.6 percent, 36-15), losses, and injury.

Analysis

Strengths

Experienced running a pro-style system. Makes adjustments at the line of scrimmage (including the run game) and unloads the ball quickly when seeing a favorable matchup before the snap. Usually accurate when he is able to set his base and stride into his throws. Offense was designed to move the pocket to account for his height, and, while he isn’t overly athletic, he showed the mobility to throw accurately on bootlegs and half rolls. Looks off and pump-fake safeties and communicate with receivers pre-snap on the opposite side of the field from which he intends to throw. Three-time team captain also possesses intangibles NFL teams desire at the position, taking hits and bouncing back, displaying intelligence with his multiple academic all-conference accolades, and earning a spot on the 2011 Allstate AFCA Good Works team.

Weaknesses

Lacks ideal height for the position. Does not have a plus arm, though it’s enough to run a movement-based NFL offense. Allows defenders into plays when he is unable to step into throws, especially when going across the field. Inconsistent making throws against pressure. Does have have physical tools to make throws when he's not set, but has progressed in his ability to find space and get the ball of with awkward release platforms. Ball comes out of his hand poorly at times, though it usually reaches its intended target. Confident enough in his pre-snap read that he’ll stare down his initial target. Sails passes over his receivers’ heads when feeling pressure or in the three-step game. No threat to pick up large chunks of yardage with his feet. Improved completion percentage in 2011 came partially due to quick east-west throws to his talented wideouts. While he had a lot of attempts, there are questions as to what degree structure of the offense featured him or masked his physical limitations. Other than a hot stretch over the second half of his junior season, his production has been almost entirely tied to the strength of his surrounding cast.

NFL Comparison

Marc Bulger

Bottom Line

Expect Barkley to be the fourth first-round passer Southern California has produced since 2003 (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez). Though not elite in terms of his height, arm strength, or mobility, he will capably move an NFL offense with accurate short throws possessing sufficient zip (69.1 percent completion rate in 2011), solid decision-making ability, and enough downfield touch to take advantage of a talented receiving corps. Although it ended disappointingly, the fact he decided to return to school for 2012 to help his team compete for a national championship after being on a postseason ban is just one measure of his intangibles.
C
Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.
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