University of Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley started 45 games in his college career. That has not stopped NFL teams from going the extra mile to get up-close looks at the 22-year-old California native.
The Buffalo Bills sent a team of scouts to Los Angeles on Monday to put Barkley through a private practice session. Barkley might be a first-round candidate in this month’s NFL Draft, although not all draft analysts are enthusiastic about his pro prospects. Southern California receiver Robert Woods, widely viewed as a second-round prospect, also was believed to be part of the workout.
Barkley had already held a pro-day workout at USC last week. The NFL has more game video on Barkley than on most draft prospects, because he was a four-year starter for the Trojans.
He compiled a record as a starter of 34-11. He holds 20 school passing records and holds Pacific 12 Conference records for most career completions (1,001), passing yards (12,327) and touchdown passes (116). There was a lot of speculation about Barkley being a first-round prospect after he led USC to a 10-2 record as a junior. He opted to stay in school for his senior season, and Southern California struggled through a 7-6 campaign. Barkley had a strong corps of receivers but sub-par pass protection.
Barkley’s strengths are his production, experience and intangibles. He is very accurate on short to intermediate throws. The concerns about him center on the fact he does not have exceptional arm strength, height (he’s 6-foot-2) or foot speed.
“The word I would use is solid,” said Mike Mayock, NFL Network analyst. “That’s the kind of quarterback he is. He’s been under center his entire life, he’s NFL ready as far as his feet are concerned. He’s not going to bowl you away with arm strength. It’s good. It’s not elite. But timing, anticipation and accuracy, that’s where he’s going to have to make his living.”
“I think ultimately he is going to be a first-round quarterback,” Mayock said. “I think he’s a leader. I think he’s a grinder. I think he likes the game. So at the end of the day he’s a guy that can step in and run a pro offense very, very quickly.”
Said ESPN analyst Mel Kiper: “He doesn’t have a great arm. But he’s got good enough arm strength in the right situation, which wouldn’t be Buffalo. It certainly wouldn’t be a cold-weather environment.”
The Bills previously held private workouts with quarterbacks Geno Smith of West Virginia, E.J. Manuel of Florida State and Landry Jones of Oklahoma.