Matt Barkley: I Did Not See This Coming

Matt Barkley met with the Eagles at the Combine back in February.

He knew Chip Kelly from having played against him in the Pac-12. And he worked out for Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor. Barkley even had a pretty good hunch that his name was going to get called in the fourth round today.

But he’d be lying if he said Philadelphia was on the short list of places he thought he’d end up.

“I did not see it coming,” Barkley said. “I had a great meeting with Coach Lazor, the quarterbacks coach, when he came out to USC to work me out. And I’ve had a pretty solid relationship with Coach Kelly over the last couple of years, obviously playing against each other. I have all the respect in the world for him, what he was able to do at Oregon. This comes as a breath of fresh air, a new beginning. No matter when it happened, I’m just glad to have a home and a place to start working and to start my career.”

It’s been a long few days for the Eagles’ fourth-round pick. Some thought he had a chance of going in the first round. Most believed he would be off the board at some point Friday. Instead, all he got was a few pranks calls.

Barkley just kept slipping and slipping until the Eagles moved up three spots and grabbed with the 98th overall pick.

“It definitely was hard to sleep,” Barkley said. “I knew I was going to wake up early this morning. I actually took a walk with my fiancee this morning and prayed with her just to kind of get my mind off of things, and we kind of got a tip that it was going to be early in the round, so we hurried back home. But did not expect it to be right off the bat.

“It was a weird feeling not knowing where you’re going to be working, where you’re going to have a job, and so the fact that I just finally have a home is encouraging, and I cannot wait to hit the playbook and hit the field.”

Kelly has said consistently that he’s looking first and foremost for a quarterback who can be accurate. Barkley completed 63.6 percent of his attempts last year and 69.1 the year before.

Still, the issue of fit is one that will continue to be debated. Barkley is not known for his mobility, and Kelly now has QBs with varied skill sets on his roster, including Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon.

“From what I hear, it’s not going to look exactly the same as it did at Oregon,” Barkley said of the Eagles’ offense. “I mean, the team’s different, the personnel is different than what coach had last year. They have a pro-style coaching staff. If they stick to that, then I’ll work at it. I’ll be a part of that offense. It doesn’t matter what we run, I’m going to give it my all.”

Asked if he expects to compete for a starting job, Barkley said, “Absolutely. I’m going to come in and compete. My mindset is whatever happens, whatever the situation is, that has to be your mindset of coming in and competing like it’s your job and pushing myself, challenging myself day in and day out. I think it’ll be great to be able to learn from Michael as a vet who’s been in the game for a long time and to learn from a great coaching staff. Just to push myself, I’m going to come in and work my hardest from Day One.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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