On Wednesday, USC had their pro day for their players entering the 2013 NFL Draft, and quarterback Matt Barkley headlined the group. It was the first time he has thrown for NFL pro personnel since recovering from a shoulder injury. According to Yahoo!'s Doug Farrar, the question of Barkley's arm strength, especially after the injury, has been put to rest. While he is not considered a strong-armed passer, his arm strength proved to be back at what it was when he was healthy .
In that same article, it was stated that the Arizona Cardinals had a presence there, even though the team's decision makers in Steve Keim and Bruce Arians were not.
As for his throws, Barkley reportedly struggled on longer passes, where receivers had to come back to the ball. However, he was able to get the ball deep enough and with enough arc. His velocity coming out of his hand was decent as well.
What he showed was that "he has by far the best footwork, ball flight (ability to put the right amount of air under the ball), anticipation, and sense of play action of any quarterback in this draft class."
Barkley was asked if he felt he had something to prove. "I don't know -- that's not my job," he said. "I do what I do, and if it's proof enough for someone else, so be it. But I don't think that was my goal today."
His QB performance coach, Chris Weinke, downplayed the talk of his "weak arm."
"Here's the deal -- everybody gets enamored with arm strength," he said. "The key for me when coaching quarterbacks, whether it's a veteran or a younger guy, is to understand that the most important thing is obviously accuracy. Along with that is being able to have the ability to process information and deliver the ball with anticipation. Very rarely in the National Football League do we drop back and throw the ball 70 yards. The great quarterbacks don't have to have a cannon for an arm -- they've got to be able to make all the throws physically, and to get the ball out on time."
Barkley is able to do those things.
Will that change the perception of "the USC QBs"? The struggles of Matt Leinart, Matt Cassel and Mark Sanchez all hurt Barkley because of the perception that these USC QBs only perform well because of the talent around them.
The thing I was most intrigued with was the mention of Barkley's strength in anticipation. The three aforementioned former Trojans struggle with it. Leinart was always unwilling to throw a ball where a receiver was going to be open, waiting only when he actually saw it as. Sanchez struggles to anticipate the throws, and Cassel as well.
Barkley is no Max Hall. He can make the throws. He is accurate. he has great footwork and he anticipates plays. While the games I saw him play against Arizona State made him seem very ordinary, those traits are the ones you want to see in a quarterback.
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