It wasn’t long ago that the stage seemed set for Matt Barkley to have a storybook ending to his career at USC. He was supposed to lead the Trojans from the depths of their NCAA sanctions to the summit of a national championship.
However, an underachieving season and a shoulder injury later, he now surprisingly finds himself the underdog.
Despite his health issues and relatively poor senior outing, Matt Barkley is making the smart decision by playing it safe and not throwing (per ESPN) during the scouting combine.
His draft stock has already taken quite the tumble and he should not do anything to further hurt it. A poor performance in Indianapolis would do nothing except further expose the already visible flaws in his game, which are his arm strength and deep accuracy. If he’s not feeling fully capable of disproving his doubters, he should just rest his arm.
Furthermore, Barkley has the benefit of being part of a quarterback class that is anything but stellar. There is no Andrew Luck or RGIII in this group. This is a year full of quarterbacks with high potential that need time to develop.
Right now, Barkley’s draft status is in limbo. He may be a first-, second- or third-round pick. A desperate team like the Bills or Cardinals just may pull the trigger and take Barkley with their first-round pick if he’s lucky.
But if he makes himself look bad during the combine, he will lose whatever is left of his draft status and find himself in that awkward position of being the only person left in the green room come draft day.
Although he has his shortcomings, Barkley most certainly has a large set of strengths.
He’s a strong, decisive leader that is capable of inspiring his team to victory. When given time, he is accurate on most of his throws, especially short and mid-range ones. Barkley and his agents need to focus on selling those traits and not worry about relieving any doubts regarding his physical abilities.
We all know he does not have Cutler-like arm strength and he’s not going to suddenly develop that before the combine.
With injuries and poor performance in his senior year, not throwing may actually help Barkley instead of hurt him. He does not need more questions surrounding his ability to make accurate, deep throws. He’s not Aaron Rodgers and he’s not going to become him before the combine.
What Barkley will probably need at the next level is to be surrounded by a solid offensive line that will give him time to make good, accurate throws.
Aaron Rodgers was able to have a stellar statistical 2012 season, despite being the most sacked quarterback in the NFL. Barkley does not have that capability and a shoddy offensive line will probably spell disaster for his career.
Barkley has a plethora of strengths that ensure him a place in the NFL for quite some time. He will probably never develop the natural arm strength that catapulted Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco to elite status, but given the right situation, he’ll be just fine.
His draft status is already the great unknown and he does not need to hurt it anymore than he did during his final outing at USC.
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