Saturday, April 27, 2013
Odd couple: Matt Barkley and Chip Kelly
By Garry Paskwietz
Matt Barkley didn’t have to wait long on the third day of the draft to hear his name called as the Philadelphia Eagles traded into the top spot in the fourth round to take the USC quarterback.
Matt Barkley didn't have to wait long on Saturday, as the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to draft the former USC quarterback with the first pick of the fourth round of the NFL draft.
“It was definitely a breath of fresh air to get that call from the Eagles this morning,” Barkley said in an ESPN interview. “It didn’t come as a complete surprise. I had a done a lot of work with them and I’ve had a relationship over the years with [new Eagles] coach [Chip] Kelly. I have a lot of respect for him and I think that goes two ways.”
It's a curious twist that Philadelphia's coach is Kelly, the former Oregon coach whose offensive system that wouldn’t seem to be an ideal fit for Barkley.
The quarterbacks in Kelly’s offense have traditionally shown the ability to run well in addition to being effective passers. Barkley is known for his pocket passing ability, but he will never be confused with current Eagles quarterback Michael Vick for his running skills. But Kelly knows offensive football and over the last two years he watched as Barkley completed 61 of 88 passes for 807 yards and nine touchdowns against his Oregon team. The Trojans and Ducks split those two games.
Kelly has always been an “outside the box” thinker with his approach and he was likely intrigued by other elements that Barkley brings to the table. Kelly’s offense moves very fast and Barkley is known as a cerebral player who can make quick in-game adjustments and has good timing -- vital traits for this system. Barkley’s leadership skills are also off the charts and that is always going to be important as Kelly looks to groom a young player at such an important position.
It also stands to reason that Kelly talked with USC coach Lane Kiffin. The two have a mutual respect and any recommendations from Kiffin were likely given a lot of credence by Kelly.
“To know where I’m going to be playing, where I’m gong to be living, I can’t wait,” Barkley said. “To know that someone believes in me and that it’s someone like Chip Kelly, who is a winner and knows my game first-hand, it’s a great feeling. Just get me the playbook already; I want to play.”
The Eagles currently have three quarterbacks on the roster in addition to Barkley: Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon.