Originally written on Rumors and Rants  |  Last updated 2/3/13
Former USC quarterback Matt Barkley will (apparently) not be throwing at the 2013 NFL Draft Combine. Technically, he’s “not sure” if he’ll throw. Either way, this isn’t earth-shattering news for a top quarterback prospect who expects to go high in the subsequent draft. Except Barkley isn’t expected to go high in the draft. While he is the top-ranked quarterback according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., Barkley is at best a low-first round pick who may fall further than that. It’s not crazy to say that Barkley has something to prove going into the draft. Not only was he the quarterback of the most disappointing USC team in program history, he injured his throwing shoulder at the end of the season. This, too, would be a reasonable excuse for not throwing at the combine. Except, according to Barkley, that’s not why he’s throwing either. In an article for ESPNLA titled “Matt Barkley Out To Prove Himself,” Barkley categorically says he sees no need to throw at the combine because his numbers weren’t worse than the season before and discounts the idea that the team was disappointing or that people should be worried about his injured shoulder. Instead, he asserts that he will throw at USC’s pro day and that the punishments stemming from the Reggie Bush mess were the reason the team was disappointing: “Given the circumstances with less scholarships, it really affected the way we were able to practice. It really stunk,” Barkley said. “You can’t risk players getting hurt with tackling drills and you don’t have that depth that other teams do, and I think that really affected us. If [USC head coach Lane Kiffin] can conquer that this year with the skill that they have, I think he’ll definitely secure that position.” He added: “He almost had to resurrect a program … He had to inspire a team during that, which he did. Two years ago, he inspired us and we had a great team. Last year was a little different circumstances, but he can still bring it back to where it needs to be.” Uh, Matt, a bad record, a statistical regression (almost twice as many interceptions, for example) and an injury that caused you to miss the end of the regular season and the bowl game are ALL reasons you need to prove yourself. Any regular viewer of USC games, looking in your direction Ryan Phillips, saw Barkley consistently making bad reads and forcing throws. And this was in an offense he had run masterfully only a year before. At times, like in the Stanford game, it was almost shocking to watch, especially with the best collection of wide receivers in the country. I don’t know if Barkley has watched his own game film or not, but the excuses were flowing in the ESPNLA piece this past weekend. If he truly is injured, then he definitely should not throw until he’s healthy. There’s no reason to damage his draft stock like that. However, if he truly believes that he has so little to prove that the questions about his statistics, his shoulder, or what the hell happened to his team in 2012, then he’s getting bad advice. Just because he would have been a top-five pick in the 2012 draft doesn’t mean he still is one just because he played another season and didn’t spike himself or message anyone pictures of his dick. This could all change with a good pro day performance and some encouraging news about his shoulder, but that’s the point: he has quite a bit of work between now and the NFL Draft.
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