With the 98th overall pick, the Eagles traded up to take Barkley. After many believed that he would be a first-rounder in 2012, Barkley had to wait until Day 3 of the draft before finally finding a home in the NFL.
During his phone interview with ESPN after being drafted, Barkley was "elated" and sounded very eager to play right away, although it is uncertain whether or not that's the best plan for the Eagles to win games.
Although you can certainly appreciate the competitive nature of Barkley, there are a few reasons why he shouldn’t play in 2013.
Barkley suffered a separated shoulder at the end of his senior season that had yet to heal before the NFL Scouting Combine, and his stock tanked because of it. While the shoulder will likely be fully healed at some point this season, there is always the risk of re-injuring it. Bleacher Report’s own Dave Siebert explained the shoulder injury back in February.
That said, once his torn ligaments have both entirely re-attached as well as cemented themselves back into place—which they will—Barkley will most likely look like his old self. However, no torn ligaments are ever quite as stable as they once were prior to injury, and any hint of an increased injury risk will be taken into account during draft weekend.
Even if Barkley feels 100 percent during the season, keeping him off of the field will give him the opportunity to continue rehabbing the shoulder and strengthening it. With all of the questions about his arm strength, getting his shoulder stronger over the next year would be a pretty good idea.
The Eagles also have plenty of quarterbacks on the roster right now, meaning that the competition will be intense for Barkley to get on the field if he decides to test his shoulder. With Michael Vick, Nick Foles and even Dennis Dixon on the squad, the odds are not in Barkley’s favor to win the starting job.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Chip Kelly’s new offense will likely require a faster and more mobile quarterback. Vick seems to be the clear choice for the moment, and hopefully he can stay healthy so that he can stay on the field for the entire season.
For Barkley, he will need to use this time to develop under both Vick and Foles. The offense will be going at a much faster pace than Barkley was used to at USC. According to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, LeSean McCoy described the offense as a “freaking track meet.”
Speed and mobility weren’t Barkley’s strongest traits in college, but a season to get more athletic would help. More importantly, a year to master the offense will make his lack of mobility more forgivable.
With Kelly teaching him the ins and outs of the offensive game plan for an entire year, Barkley could become a potential starter in 2014. Until then, Barkley should work on getting better and healthier before he thinks about becoming the starting QB for the Eagles.