Given Matt Barkley's inactivity since November, he felt good in front of scouts at USC's Pro Day.
By MICHAEL MARTINEZFS West
LOS ANGELES –
Matt Barkley had one chance to impress, and although his Pro Day at USC was far from perfect, it probably still served its primary purpose.
Barkley wanted to show that his injured right shoulder, which cut short his senior season and kept him out of the Senior Bowl, was fully healed. He threw 62 passes of varying lengths on Wednesday and showed no ill effects.
Barkley insisted he didn’t need to prove anything at his Pro Day, either to himself or to scouts. But given his inactivity since November, he had to show something scouts could write in their notebooks.
“That’s not my job,” Barkley said. “I do what I do, and if it was proof enough for someone else, then so be it. But I don’t think that was my goal today.
“A lot of the proof is in the tape. That’s where they look first. I think today was just proof that I still have an arm and still could throw and make those passes down the field.”
He made them. NFL coaches will decide on draft day in April just how good they were.
There will undoubtedly still be questions about his foot speed and arm strength, but he considered the day a success in front of scouts and coaches from every NFL team except the Washington Redskins.
“I thought it was a good day,” Barkley said. “You always try to be perfect, especially on a day like this, but I’m pleased with how the guys came out and ran routes and how the ball came out.”
Barkley floated several long passes on a bright, breezy day at the USC track stadium and missed on six attempts, including four overthrows and two drops. But he was largely on target to his receivers, including former Trojans teammate Robert Woods, who stretched out to make a couple of diving catches.
“He looked great,” Woods said of Barkley. “His balls were in great positions. The ones he did overthrow were just one step. That’s just timing. No big deal. But his balls looked great, right on the money.”
opted not to throw at the NFL combine in February and hasn’t thrown in a competitive atmosphere since he sustained a separated right shoulder in the UCLA game on Nov. 17. But he was cool and under control, even if some of his throws weren’t. A few balls were short, forcing receivers to wait on them.
“He did outstanding,” said Norv Turner, the former San Diego Chargers head coach and current Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator. “He showed he’s got plenty of arm strength and unbelievable touch. I think he helped himself today.”
Barkley remains a projected second-round pick in the draft, although some mock drafts have him going late in the first round. With an emphasis on more mobile quarterbacks – although not necessarily speed burners -- he didn’t help himself in the 40-yard dash, running a pedestrian 5.02 and 4.93, according to the USC athletic department. By comparison, West Virginia’s Geno Smith had the best 40 time among quarterbacks at the combine at 4.59.