Matt Barkley doesn’t appear to be a fit for the system we assume Chip Kelly wants to run in Philadelphia, so we typically skip right over his name when talking about the Eagles’ quarterback situation. And maybe that is just sound logic at work. It should at least be noted, though, that the Eagles brass found it worth their time to interview the USC signal-caller at the Combine last week in Indianapolis.
Asked how Barkley came across in that sit-down, a team source who was part of the meeting responded: “Very smart. Impressive. Mature.”
Per Peter King, the Eagles were one of nine teams to have such a session with Barkley, joining the Jets, Steelers, Raiders, Chiefs, Bills, Jaguars, Cardinals and Bucs. He also informally met with Seattle, Cleveland and Atlanta. More from King:
He talked ruefully of his challenging sessions with teams. Teams can speak with players for 15 minutes at night during the combine…
“We watch tape,” he said, “and I haven’t seen one TD of mine. I’ve seen a lot of interceptions, and they want to know why they happen. I think a couple of teams wanted me to throw coaches or whoever under the table. One team gave me sort of a trick question: ‘Would you rather ride the bench and win a Super Bowl, or be a starter and not make the Super Bowl?’ That’s a trick question, really. I just said, ‘I want to be a starter. As much as I want to win a Super Bowl ring, I don’t want one handed to me without deserving it.’ ”
The point of the exercise, per a team source, is to “put them in uncomfortable situations and see how they react.” Even if the process chafed him a bit, it sounds like the 22-year-old Barkley acquitted himself well.
For Barkley — a potential first-round pick — there are still plenty of questions to answer. His Trojans finished last season 7-6 after being ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason poll. And there was some concern about his arm strength even before he suffered a separated shoulder in November. That injury prevented him from throwing at the Combine. He plans on easing any fears when he tosses at his Pro Day on March 27.
Then there is the issue of whether he would fit with what Kelly is looking for. The new Eagles coach favors quarterbacks that can threaten a defense with his feet, no question. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he would pass on a superior QB just because running is not a strength.
“I would say, yeah, I’m a traditional dropback quarterback, passing quarterback. At the same time, I definitely believe I have the quickness, the pocket mobility, to avoid [rushers and have] what it takes to get out of the pocket,” said Barkley.
“It’s a passing game. As much as the read-option is successful, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback [Joe Flacco] is similar to how I play. That style, that tradition, I don’t think that’ll ever fade.”
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