Matt Barkley needs to quiet pre-draft critics at pro day


When it comes to Matt Barkley, opinions vary. Quite a bit, actually.

A shaky final season at USC created a lack of clarity in assessing Barkley as an NFL quarterback. An injury to his throwing shoulder -- one that shortened his senior season and kept him out of positional drills at the NFL Scouting Combine -- provided further uncertainty.

The curtain goes up Wednesday at USC's Pro Day. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock believes Barkley will have a golden opportunity to sell himself as a first-round draft pick.

"I think the most important thing for him is, No. 1, accuracy, especially on all the balls outside the numbers," Mayock said Monday on "Path to the Draft." "And then, No. 2, I want to sit down with him. And I think teams want to sit down with him.

"I think teams want to get into his head a little bit -- why was this past year so bad? What was up with the UCLA tape? Why were you throwing interceptions? Why were you taking sacks? Were you trying to make too many things happen because your team was heading in the wrong direction?"

Barkley has been working with Chris Weinke at the IMG Academy and is believed to be back to full health. Geno Smith will remain the top quarterback on most draft boards, but Barkley has a chance to present himself as the next best thing.

And that might be enough to make him a first-round pick.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.