A little over a month and a half ago Bryan Zarpentine did a series of articles determining the NFL readiness of what’s turned out to be one of the weaker quarterback classes in recent history. In these articles he gave a detailed look at the circumstances surrounding each quarterback through their years in college and separated the pretenders and contenders, as he saw fit.

For the most part I agreed with his analysis, but I’m not one for adopted opinions. As the age old saying goes, the tape never lies - and I had plenty at my disposal.

Today’s preview will be on quite possibly the most polarizing prospect in this year’s draft class: Matt Barkley. Depending on who you ask he’s either a Week 1 starter, who’s NFL readiness separates him from his peers, or an overhyped prospect doomed to a long career as a serviceable backup. Me, I’m somewhere in-between the two.

When I watch the tape on Barkley nothing jumps out at me, be it for the right or wrong reasons. There are of course flaws and strengths in his game, just like any quarterback, but nothing to convince me he’s nearly as bad or good as some suggest.

The Goods

  • A lot of the NFL readiness associated with Matt Barkley has to do with his having played in a pro-style offense during his college career.
  • Barkley’s experience in a pro-style offense has led to his developing a knack for making effective changes at the line.
  • A very intelligent quarterback that makes quick assessments of what the defense is bringing. Often makes it to his second and third reads.
  • Has incredible short to intermediate accuracy. Always puts the ball in a position that allows his receivers to catch it in stride and get yards after the catch.

The Not so Goods

  • The main reason for his plummeting draft stock was his inability to play well behind a worse offensive line than he’d usually gone under center behind, in his final college season.
  • Panics under pressure and makes some just mind bogglingly stupid throws as a result.
  • Has bad footwork and a nasty habit of wandering in the pocket.
  • There are serious concerns about his durability, especially after not being able to finish his senior year.
  • Doesn’t have prototypical quarterback height. He’s not Russell Wilson short, but he is only 6’2.
  • There were always concerns about his arm strength and his season ending injury to his shoulder have surely done nothing to ease them. His accuracy on deep throws has always suffered as a result.

The Verdict: Matt Barkley has the potential to develop into a starting quarterback in the NFL, but for the sake of his career I hope it isn’t on Week 1. Barkley has all the tools mentally to succeed in the NFL, but his mechanics could use a little work. I see Barkley as a worthwhile project for any team that has the patience to properly develop him.

Where he should be drafted: Somewhere in the middle of the second round.

Where he will be drafted: Late in the first or early in the second

Ideal fits: Seattle, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay

Comparables: Alex Smith, Mark Sanchez

For Bryan Zarpentine’s take on Matt Barkley

You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV