Philadelphia Eagles move up in Day 3 to grab USC QB Matt Barkley

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Matt Barkley taking the call that made him a Philadelphia Eagles. Image via PhiladelphiaEagles.com

Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles had the biggest surprise of all in Day 3 of the NFL Draft when they traded up three spots to the top of the 4th round to nab USC quarterback Matt Barkley. The move was surprising for a number of reasons, but particularly because of the questions it raises.

What does the pick mean for the overall quaterback situation for the Birds, in particular for the futures of Mike Vick and Nick Foles on the team? And what does it mean about the type of offense we may see from Kelly?

Kelly’s explanation for the pick was simple. Barkley (6’2, 227) was rated as one of Philadelphia’s top 50 players and they couldn’t believe he was still available heading into the 4th round. So, they went up to get him.

The fact that he was still there, we talked about all along that we were going to take value and there was no better value for us to open up today and we took Matt. He’s the all-time leading passer in USC history, he’s one of the all-time great quarterbacks to play in [the Pac-12], he was a four-year starter in high school, a four-year starter in college and he has all the intangibles you’re looking for. [He’s] coming off an injury, but he did not have an operation. Maybe some people evaluated him a little bit [differently] just because he’s coming off it. If you do what everybody talks about and go to the film and go to his body of work, he’s had an outstanding career and we’re excited to have him.”

Barkley is another player with whom Kelly is extremely familiar from his time at Oregon, with USC being a PAC-12 rival. The decline in the quarterback’s performance his senior season due to a shoulder injury did not negatively impact Kelly’s evaluation of Barkley.

I saw a guy that threw 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions… Offensively, you watch him go in the game and just rip it. He’s just been a performer from the offensive standpoint. I think sometimes that is kind of overlooked in terms of what his performance was like. But it wasn’t like I think he had a bad year, he just ended up getting hurt in the UCLA game and didn’t play in the bowl game.”

For those worried about the quarterback’s arm strength, Kelly stated that the Eagles have been assured that Barkley’s arm strength will get back to 100%, where it was pre-injury.

While observers saw Barkley’s selection as contrary to what they’ve seen out of Chip Kelly’s offenses, the head coach says that he’s open to the kind of quarterback he’ll use in the NFL.

I believe we have flexibility. We had different quarterbacks when I was at Oregon and really, the key is playing to their strengths. But, everything we do, our quarterback has to be able to throw. To play at that level of college football that we were at and to be able to play in the NFL, you have to have a quarterback that is accurate and can deliver the football and protect it and not turn it over. If the fact they have the ability to run, I believe that’s an added bonus, but that’s not the precursor to what we do. We’ve said it since day one. I want the quarterback that has the ability to run. I do not want a running back that can throw. We’ve never been that type of offense and I think that’s a misconception…Repetitive accuracy is the number one quality we’re looking for.”

Regardless of when his name was called, Barkley is thrilled at the opportunity he has with the Philadelphia Eagles to play in the NFL.

This comes as a breath of fresh air. [It’s] a new beginning. No matter when it happened, I’m just glad to have a home and a place to start working and to start my career.”

With the days of rehab for his injury behind him, Barkley firmly believes that the sky is the limit for his pro career.

I just can’t wait to get into minicamps and to prove myself and to show that I do have a strong arm and I am capable of playing in this league and playing strong. Just give me a shot and I can’t wait to see where this leads.”

Barkley’s selection means that the Eagles’ roster, at present, is chock full of quarterbacks—five to be exact. An obvious question the pick raises is this: What does Kelly intend to do with them all? But for Kelly, it’s all about having option and keeping the competition fierce.

I’m kind of confused when people keep saying that you have a lot of quarterbacks. I think everybody in the NFL goes to camp with five guys. Are we going to keep five during the season? Absolutely not. There’s going to have to be cut down at some point in time. There’s no reason when your roster for preseason camp is 90 to not have five quarterbacks.”

Now that the 2013 NFL Draft has come and gone, we’ve had to watch the new Eagles head coach leave his first major imprint on the organization. But so far, he’s shown a great ability to continue to keep us guessing.

So long as he maintains a similar mystery for opposing defenses come the start of the season, we’ll be in great shape.

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