USC Trojans: 2013 NFL draft

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.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley
Harry How/Getty ImagesMatt 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.
The 2013 NFL draft is fast approaching with a lot of uncertainty at the top of the draft board for a pair of Trojans.

Robert Woods and Matt Barkley both had successful careers at USC while putting up huge numbers, but there doesn’t seem to be a firm opinion from draft experts on where they might get selected or if it will be in the first round. There is even doubt as to which of them will be picked first. For a long while it seemed a sure thing that Barkley would be the first USC player selected but there has been some momentum for Woods lately that could put him in the mix.

Robert Woods, Matt Barkley AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillRobert Woods and Matt Barkley put their best foot forward in front of scouts from 31 NFL teams during USC's pro day Wednesday.
The Trojans held their annual NFL Pro Day on Wednesday with plenty of buzz surrounding the workout of quarterback Matt Barkley.

Not only is Barkley a high-profile prospect at the most high-profile position, but pro day marked the first time Barkley had an opportunity to throw for scouts since injuring his shoulder in late November. Since the end of the season Barkley has been spending his time in the South getting treatment on the shoulder and working with former FSU quarterback Chris Weinke at the IMG Academy in Florida.

Before he could get to his throwing work, Barkley ran the 40-yard dash (a hand-timed mark of 4.87) and the shuttle drill, although he slipped in one shuttle rep and came up flexing his right hand. By the time his throwing session started, the hand was fine and all eyes were focused on him.

Barkley threw to a group of five primary players; wide receivers Robert Woods, Brandon Carswell and Travon Patterson, tight end Dominique Byrd and running back Curtis McNeal. It took about three or four throws to realize the shoulder strength was not an issue. There was zip on his passes and he was moving well on a variety of throws. There will always be nitpicking as part of the scouting process for little things that might not have gone as well, but for the most part it was a successful session, with Barkley hitting on 46 of 50 throws.

“It was a great day just to come out and throw the ball around,” Barkley said. “It’s good to be back on SC’s campus for something like this. The shoulder felt fine. The ball slipped on a couple but no worries about that. I’m not worried about anything.”

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