“Elite” is no longer an elite word to describe a quarterback, but we’ll leave the linguistic quibbling for another time.
For weeks we’ve all waited in eager anticipation of Matt Barkley’s Pro Day, a day in which many jump-suited men watch with clipboards while one kid who’s barely removed from his teen years runs around in shorts, and possibly a shirt. Great times are had by all.
Barkley’s workout at USC was the most important workout of the Pro Day season after he wasn’t able to participate in the throwing drills at the Combine last month due to a shoulder injury. He needed to prove to scouts that he can, in fact, throw a spiral and have it maintain the proper arc over a great distance while arriving at its desired destination.
Throwing in shorts against defenders that don’t exist is pretty easy. But although the reports from the ground in southern California following Barkley’s workout were generally positive, they’re still far less than glowing.
He made 62 scripted throws, all of varying distances, and he connected on 56 of them. But two of those misfires were considered drops, and receivers had to reach for several others, opening themselves up to viscous hits from the imaginary defenders.
There was some concern that his deep ball wobbled a bit in the wind, showing a lack of power. Those were voiced by NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. But really, nothing that happened today changed Mayock’s opinion of the man who’s likely and probably set to be the second quarterback off the board in late April behind Geno Smith. It’s just a matter of when exactly Barkley’s name is called, and how long he waits.
Mayock thought Barkley was good, but not great prior to today. Or great but not elite. Whatever, the point here is, he still thinks that.
“There’s no knock (against him). His arm strength is what I thought it was. It’s good. It’s just not elite.”
Other folks saw something a little different that indicates he’s not worth of a first-round pick. The venom of the anonymous scout strikes again…
AFC scout on Barkley workout: “Just average. Very average. Some issues with accuracy.” Same scout: “Woods was the star of day.” #uscproday
— Dré (@Andy_Fenelon) March 27, 2013
Our nameless man is of course referring to Robert Woods, Barkley’s main target throughout his time as USC’s starting quarterback. Woods could sneak into the back half of the first round if a wide receiver needy team like Houston values him highly enough. He had 2,141 receiving yards over his final two seasons as a Trojan, with eight touchdown catches. Woods said that Barkley’s arm strength was better today than during the season, because of course he did.
In summary, Barkley did what was expected today. He showed his shoulder has improved, and he showed that he has the potential to be a fine NFL quarterback, but likely a less than spectacular one. That sounds like a dagger, but it’s not. It just means that maybe using a first-round pick on him isn’t such a good idea, even though that will probably still happen.
For elite quarterbacks, the purpose of Pro Day throwing is to show that all throws can be executed almost flawlessly while they’re playing toss with their best buddies, and facing pressure from only a breeze that may be somewhere between pleasant and stiff. Either way, no human bodies are present.
Barkley didn’t do that.