USC quarterback Matt Barkley will be at the NFL Combine to interview with teams, but his agents issued a statement Monday stating that he will not participate in any on-field testing as a result of his ongoing recovery from a shoulder injury.
The injury Barkley suffered during the regular season that eventually worsened to the point where he was unable to play vs. Notre Dame and the Hyundai Sun Bowl vs. Georgia Tech while also preventing him from participating in the Senior Bowl is reportedly 90% healed.
I think his inability not throw at the combine will see his draft stock fall out of the first round, because it is one less opportunity for him to prove that he is still the same player he was a year ago when he was mentioned in the same breath as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as top draft-eligible quarterback prospects.
While those two were taken with the first two picks in the draft, Barkley returned to USC for his senior season that saw him toss a career-high 15 interceptions–highlighted by nine coming in a four-week stretch that saw the Trojans drop three of four games.
The Trojans finished with a disappointing 7-6 record after starting the season ranked as the top team in the nation and Barkley took a lot of the heat for the team’s struggles despite throwing for 3,273 yards and 36 touchdowns.
Resting his shoulder until his pro day on March 27, where he will get to throw to teammate Robert Woods in a familiar environment at 100%, will be all Barkley needs to show the NFL he has the arm talent to merit first-round consideration.
Luck didn’t throw at the combine last year, although he did participate in the other drills and didn’t have any injury questions’ surrounding him, his pro day is where he solidified his spot in the draft.
I still think Barkley has the best resume of any quarterback in this draft, and while he may not be the first quarterback taken anymore, I think he has the best pro career in front of him, and with a build similar to that of Drew Brees, he should be a starting quarterback in the NFL for a long time as long as he can stay healthy.
Brees was the top pick in the second round when he came out, and I think that is where Barkley goes this year. That would represent great value at that range, because one year ago, he likely would have gone in the top-10 picks. If he was healthy enough to throw at the combine, I think he would cement his status as a first-round pick, but that’s not the case any longer.
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