The biggest question about Matt Barkley is arm strength. That was the case before he separated his shoulder on November 17 against UCLA, and even more so since.
Chip Kelly, though, has seen that arm up close — Barkley threw for 484 yards and five touchdowns against Oregon two weeks before he injured that shoulder — and isn’t concerned.
“When I’ve watched him in person I think he can deliver the ball,” said Kelly. “Sometimes the arm strength aspect of it is overrated because people are trying to paint it with a brush. We’re not trying to knock over milk cartons at a county fair. It’s can you put the ball in the right spot at the right time. And I’ve seen that over the course of Matt’s career.”
Barkley did not undergo surgery following the injury. The Eagles have been assured that he will be back to 100 percent. Kelly wasn’t convinced that the 6-3, 227-pound signal caller all the way back when he threw at his pro day on March 27.
“I’m good to go,” Barkley proclaimed. “I just can’t wait to get into minicamp to prove myself and to show that I do have a strong arm, that I am capable of playing in this league and plenty strong. Just give me a shot. I can’t wait to see where this leads.”
Eagles fans are equally curious.
Still in the midst of the rehab process back in February, Barkley opted not to throw at the Combine. He was in attendance, though, and met with a host of teams, including the Eagles. It turned out to be an important encounter. Asked how Barkley came across in that sit-down, a team source who was part of the meeting responded shortly afterwards: “Very smart. Impressive. Mature.”
Kelly added to that on Saturday, telling reporters that the team walked out of the interview saying, “Wow.” [They had the same reaction, he said, to their sit-down with third-round pick Bennie Logan.] Their interest in Barkley goes beyond measurables.
“I’m going to steal a quote from [former Browns coach] Sam Rutigliano. He used to say, ‘With a quarterback, it’s like a teabag: You don’t know what you have until you put it in hot water.’ And the first time I saw Matt Barkley he was a true freshman and he came into Autzen Stadium — which is one of the toughest places to play in the world — and it didn’t faze him a bit,” said Kelly. “Matt Barkley was never a freshman; there was just a poise about him, there is a calm about him, those intangible qualities that you really look for. And it’s tough to quantify. There’s not a test for it.”
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