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Quarterback Profile: Film Breakdown of USC's Matt Barkley

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29:  Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans throws a pass against the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 29, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29: Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans throws a pass against the Stanford Cardinal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 29, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Well, it's becoming more and more obvious that the Redskins are going to be drafting pretty high and that we desperately need a franchise QB with that pick. One of the top rated QB prospects coming out this year is Matt Barkley. Couple people on twitter were asking for Barkley and Jones breakdowns, hence this post. If you do have any suggestions for me, hit me up on Twitter @UkRedskin1, I'm always looking for stuff to breakdown. This post sort of follows on from my Robert Griffin III post, so go check that out if you haven't already.  

Matt Barkley (21) measures at 6'2", 220 pounds and runs a 4.74 40 yard dash (according to CBS Sports draft website). Production wise Barkley has completed 247 passes of 370 attempts (66.8% completion rate) for 2782 yards (7.52 yards per attempt), 29 TD's and 6 INT's with a QB rating of 152.5. Barkley has only been sacked 6 times behind a USC Oline containing potential top five pick, LT Matt Kalil. Barkley is said to possess great intangibles and is fully recognised as the outright leader of his team on and off the field. Wikipedia shows us a few examples of the kind of person Barkley is.

Barkley had a 3.77 GPA in high school and frequently speaks to young students about the importance of staying on top of school work ... During his Christmas holiday in 2008, Barkley went with a group of friends and family to help run an orphanage in South Africa.

Sounds like a pretty nice guy to me, now lets look at some film.




Matt Barkley has a very nice high release point. He steps into his throw, transferring his weight and opening his hips getting him a good zip on the ball. Looking at their footwork, there no real problems. Barkley, coming from a pro-style offense, is more accustom to dropping back from under center. He's been coached how to do 3, 5 and 7 step drops with and without hitches. His mechanics and footwork are ready for the NFL level. 


Barkley's completion percentage of nearly 67% should be a good indicator that he's an accurate QB. Having watched a fair amount of him this season and through research for this post, his accuracy is actually better than that. There have been several drops (I remember a good 3 or 4 in the Stanford game) which would raise his percentage to even higher. But here's some film evidence.



This is an NFL style throw. It's an out route to the far sideline. Notice Barkley is on the right hash marks, and this throw is going to the receiver on the left sideline.



He puts is right on the spot for the receiver, who is able to run onto the catch, take it in easily and then get up field for an easy first down. I can't stress how difficult this throw is. To throw from one hash to the other sideline and put it exactly where the receiver would want the ball is an amazingly accurate throw. Here's another throw that shows smart ball placement.



It's a quick slat route, Barkley puts the ball where only the receiver can get to it. The DB can get his arms around either side to make a lay on the ball, but if he goes over the top it's pass interference and a penalty.

Arm Strength

Arm strength is one of the biggest questions asked about Barkley. He doesn't have an elite arm, but neither does Andrew Luck. His deep ball throw can be inconsistent, but there is enough evidence to say it shouldn't trouble him at the NFL level.



Barkley makes this throw from the Colorado 40.



He hit's his receiver in stride at the 1 yard line, his momentum takes him in for a TD. That is a big 40 yard throw. But just to prove it wasn't a fluke, lets have a look at one more.



Barkley throws this ball from his own 44.



The receiver had to wait ever so slightly, the ball was a yard or two under-thrown but the receiver really needs to make the adjustment and catch the ball. Unbelievably he drops it and it falls incomplete. But more evidence to show he has enough arm strength to throw a deep ball adequately at the next level. 


This is one of the most attractive qualities in Barkley's armoury. USC runs a lot of play-action bootlegs off stretch run plays, just like the Redskins do. Barkley has as much mobility as you can ask for from a QB and has no trouble throwing accurately on the run. Here's one in the red-zone.



He rolls out to his right, with a TE from the back-side coming across the defense on the play fake.



Barkley see's his first two targets are covered before seeing the TE at the back of the end-zone. 



Barkley throws off-balance against his own momentum.



But hits the receiver right in the numbers, easy catch and an easy TD. But what about rolling to his left, that is significantly harder for a QB to do as he has to readjust his body to get any power behind the throw.



It's another play-action bootleg. He rolls left, looking down-field for a target.



He spots a receiver open near the sideline and manoeuvres his body so he can get himself in a position to make a throw.



The ball is a tiny bit high, but again the receiver lets him down. You expect the receiver to bring in that pass and get the first down. 

So those are two designed bootlegs that get Barkley rolling to one side and throwing on the run. But what about when his protection breaks down and he has to roll out of the pocket to keep the play alive? He can do that too.



The Colorado DE gets the better of the USC RT, forcing Barkley first to step up in the pocket and then forcing him to scramble out right. 



Barkley keeps his eyes down-field after escaping the collapsed pocket. He see's a receiver and goes to throw but thinks better of it.



He instead keeps scrambling, all the while keeping eyes down-field despite having running room. 



His receivers at this point are 'free-styling' if you will. Barkley spots one that has gotten behind the defense. He again makes the throw on the run, keeping a nice high release point despite the awkwardness of the throw.



The ball is a yard behind the receiver, but this time the receiver manages to make the adjustment and make the catch. This is a brilliant example of a QB being able to extend a play and making a huge gain from it. All the best QB's in the league are able to extend a play in one way or another, be it through being hard to tackle (Ben Roethlisberger) or being elusive (Michael Vick) or a combination of the two (Cam Newton). Barkley has the ability to extend a play and that gives him star potential.

Checking Progressions

Luckily, during the Colorado tape I watched, they showed a clip that had a camera zoomed in on Barkley and showed his eyes reading through his progressions. 



First read.



Second read.



Third read.



Finally gets to his fourth read and finds an open receiver. For those who wondered, he completed the pass.


Top NFL QB's can all take a little off a throw and just guide it in over the top of a defender. Yet again, this is another trait Barkley possesses. Here's one really nice touch throw.



From the 20 yard line, in the red zone. The WR is on a go route and Barkley just needs to help it over the defender.



As it turns out, the DB gets beaten by the WR so it's a comfortable catch in the end. But the placement is just right and would have given a lot of DB's trouble.

The last picture I want to show you demonstrates Barkley's toughness and commitment to the game. He's already thrown the pass to his left, but the receiver is coming back across the field. Barkley is the first man to get in front and become the lead blocker.



He makes a big block that allows the ball-carrier to get the first down. How many QB's do you see doing that? That shows huge commitment to the game and to helping his team get the win.

So after making you read and look at all that, here's a quick bullet point summary on Matt Barkley's abilities:

  • Accurate
  • Mobile
  • Makes good decisions (has a low amount of INT's)
  • Plays in a pro-style offense. Gives him the mechanics and footwork to be ready to start in the NFL from day 1
  • Poise under pressure, keeps calm and is constantly looking down-field looking for an open receiver
  • He can read defense's, make adjustments and take advantage of mismatches. (Hard to show on film so I didn't). 

But these are just my notes on Barkley. So again, I pestered Mocking the Draft's Dan Kadar (follow him on twitter @MockingTheDraft if you aren't already and are interested at all in the draft) for his opinion's on Barkley.

Barkley has shown to be a more accurate player with much better poise in the pocket. What I really like about Barkley is that he throws his receivers open.

Barkley's strength is that he's pro ready right now. Barkley, especially with the Redskins, is the kind of player who could be plugged in immediately.

The weaknesses on Barkley are his arm strength (which is good, not great), he's had some injury issues and he has an ego that some teams may wonder about.

So there you go, there's my Matt Barkley breakdown. For those who are wondering, I would currently rank him second amongst college QB's (second only to Luck, obviously). Thanks again to Dan Kadar for his input in this and all my other college breakdown posts.