Monday, April 29, 2013

Throw Down Like (Matt) Barkley?

The nature of drafting QBs that even people who don't follow college football have heard of is that they have far more interest for the general public than any other position. The Eagles are about to learn all about this as Matt Barkley, once a top-10 lock and eventually a fourth-round gamble, joins the flock.

The thing about QBs... unless we're about to enter a very new and different era of pro football (see Wilson, Russell and Kaepernick, Colin), the guys that matter are drafted a lot earlier than the fourth round. It's the most important position in the biggest league, and only 32 guys get the gig, and only 12 of those guys are under center in a playoff game. If you don't have a player who is at least better than half of the starting stack, you aren't likely to make the playoffs. And if you don't have a guy who is no worse than the top six, or just a guy who has the month of his life, your chance of winning a championship doesn't really exist, either. Miss a decision anywhere else on the field, you can recover; at QB, not so much.

So that's why Barkley's going to get attention. But the bigger issue is that, well, he probably shouldn't.

Fourth round QBs aren't starters; they are back ups. Maybe quality back ups with 10-year careers and road wins when covering for injury, but back ups nonetheless. And when you look at the scouting reports for Barkley, independent of any personal juju or questions (personally, I can see why you'd stay in school as the QB for LA's closest to a pro team; there is no job in the NFL that he was going to go to that offered more in 2012), what you see is a back up. He's not going to beat you with his feet or his deep ball, and being smart and accurate only makes you a star at the lower level.

The bigger question, of course, is whether Barkley is the best QB on the roster in 2013. Mike Vick is still the presumed starter, but probably only until coach Chip Kelly figures out that the turnover issues are not something he can coach away. Back up Nick Foles has his fans in town, and Kelly might even be one of them, but others look at the foot speed and the results from the 2012 audition and aren't so sure.

There is, however, one reason to think that Barkley might get the gig sooner rather than later: turnovers. Barkley threw 48 picks in his 4-year career at USC, but that came with over 1,000 attempts; it's not great, but it's certainly lower than what Vick and Foles did in 2012. But the real win is the fumbles -- just 10 in 47 games, one of the lowest rates in college ball. Assuming that's a personal asset, and not just a matter of playing most of his days with talented teammates, and he's got a real edge over Vick, and maybe even Foles.

But just while not turning the ball over here might get you the job, it's not necessarily going to help you keep it. If the Eagles finish in the 6-10 range that most will project them at, the QB play will be a prime reason why... and the coach will have a rapidly aging turnover machine, the previous regime's 3rd round flyer, and their own 4th round lottery pick in the mix. There's nothing in that paragraph that says they wouldn't try again in the 2014 draft...

And if you want to look that far in advance, there's Tajh Boyd from Clemson, AJ McCarron from Alabama, Zach Mettenberger from LSU and a whole host of others that will emerge in the next year. (I like Boyd, but then again, I grew up with Randall Cunningham.) Barkley isn't going to stop Kelly from looking hard at any of those guys, and, well, he shouldn't.

1 comment:

CMJDad said...

Tom Brady, Michigan, 6th round. Hey, it could happen again.

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