Eagles Wake-Up Call: Barkley the Next Eli?

Trent Dilfer is decidedly bullish on Matt Barkley. He is on record as saying the former USC signal-caller is a first-round talent. Predicted that he would be the Eagles’ starter within three seasons. Thinks he can man that post for 5-8 years.

In a phone conversation with Birds 24/7 on Monday, Dilfer drew parallels between Barkley and another NFC East quarterback, Eli Manning.

“There is not a lot of difference between Matt Barkley and Eli Manning in their senior film,” said Dilfer. “In fact, I would argue that Matt’s college film is slightly better than Eli’s film.”

Dilfer went on to say that Barkley has “slightly higher graduate-level passing skills” than Matt Ryan coming out of college.

On one hand, the comparisons shouldn’t come as a complete shock. Barkley was a four-year starter for one of the premiere football teams in the country, and holds almost every significant school and Pac 12 record. He might have been a high first-round pick if he had come out last year instead of returning to USC for his senior season. On the other hand, he was ultimately deemed a fourth-round selection. Manning went No. 1 overall; Ryan was third.

That means little to Dilfer, who calls quarterback the worst evaluated position in all of sports.

“I get sick to my stomach before the NFL draft,” he said, “because quarterback evaluation is reduced to the lowest common denominator.”

The focus becomes physical measurables like height, weight, speed and arm strength, Dilfer explains, while critical information is overlooked. The former QB and current ESPN analyst relies heavily on tape. He has tracked Barkley since grade school, and watched every snap of his at USC. He believes that his experience in varied Pro-Style offenses, his exposure to big moments and his “high-functioning football IQ” are important parts of the equation. He is also of the opinion that the right fit is paramount. And he thinks Chip Kelly and Barkley fit quite well together.

“I think his skill set matches very well with what I believe Philly is going to do offensively — being a quick decision-making offense in the passing game,” said Dilfer. “They are going to put the keys in the quarterback’s hands and will ask him to do a lot, to make quick decisions, move the chains and get into the end zone.”

As far as arm strength, Dilfer says Barkley may be average to below-average when it comes to ball speed, but is above average in a metric he uses called “Load To Arrival” which measures when the off hand comes off the ball to when the throw arrives at its destination. It factors in release time, decision-making, arm strength and to a certain degree, anticipation.

Dilfer called some of the similarities between Manning and Barkley coming out of college “scary,” but was quick to remind us that Eli didn’t exactly storm out of the gates.

“To be fair Eli, because of a lack of overwhelming physical talent, struggled early until he got the keys to car to get the Giants into the best play possible at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “It was, ‘OK Eli, you get us into best play so you don’t feel uncomfortable.’ That’s when we saw the elevation of Eli.

“It’s when you marry the cognitive skills and the intangible skills with the physical skills that you get the complete quarterback.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Evan Mathis is expected to miss OTAs after having minor surgery on his ankle.

Former coach explains why you don’t want to rile up Jordan Poyer.

In the first installment of his depth chart outlook, Sheil focuses on the safety position.

Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly are trying to strike the delicate balance of winning now and building for the future.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Why do so many standout USC quarterbacks not make it in the pros? Mike Freeman ponders  possible explanations,  including the “Spoiled Brat Theory.”

It goes like this. Recent USC quarterbacks in particular grow up with a silver football in their mouth. Not all. But many. They grow up pampered both at home and in their sport. They only time they experience adversity is when the CD player on their dad’s BMW doesn’t work.

This is part stereotype, part unfair but also part accurate, according to several NFL scouts. “The feeling is that some of them are coddled,” said the scout, “and mentally soft.”

Pete Carroll does not believe Barkley will disappoint.

“I think Barkley is going to be very good. He’s a smart guy and he’s athletic. He’s going to shock some people with how quickly he adapts to the NFL.”

Ron Jaworski talks about Kelly’s approach outside the lines so far since taking over as head coach.

“Chip Kelly gets it. He understands it’s more than just X’s and O’s on the football field — it’s the players who play the game,” said Jaws. “He’s inclusive instead of exclusive, and I think that’s going to go a long way in Philadelphia. If you’re embraced in this city you’re embraced for life. We all know at the end of the day you’ve got to win football games…but when you see a coach who cares about his players, his organization and the community like he does, it gets us all excited.”

COMING UP

As always, plenty of angles to tackle.