Chip Kelly's insistence that he does not require a mobile quarterback was confirmed on Saturday when the Eagles traded up in the fourth round of the NFL draft to take Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley.
Barkley was expected to be a top 10 pick in 2012 before he returned to school in a decision that likely cost him more than $10 million. Barkley was one of the most decorated players in college football the last four seasons, but a decline in production and a shoulder injury caused his stock to dive. Still, he remained an intriguing prospect.
"We had Matt rated as one of the top 50 players in this draft," Kelly said. "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 than us to open up today and take Matt."
Barkley would have seemed to be the ideal fit for Andy Reid's offense in Philadelphia, but not Kelly's. Barkley himself expressed surprise that the Eagles picked him. Six feet, 2 inches tall and 227 pounds, Barkley is more of a pocket passer than a running threat, but that did not seem to matter for Kelly and the Eagles. Kelly said it is a misconception that he requires a running quarterback in his offense.
"Everything we do, our quarterback has to be able to throw," Kelly said. "If the fact that they have the ability to run, I believe that's an added bonus."
Barkley did not know why he fell to the fourth round, and he said he's fully recovered from a sprained shoulder that sidelined him for USC's bowl game and much of the predraft process.
Barkley said he did not regret his decision to return to USC.
"I stayed positive this whole time and haven't looked back," Barkley said during a teleconference on Saturday.
At USC, Barkley completed 64 percent of his passes for 12,327 yards, 116 touchdowns, and 48 interceptions. He set 20 USC records. In 2011, he threw four touchdowns in a 38-35 road victory over Oregon. (Three Eagles draft picks this year were on teams that beat Kelly.)
Kelly said he was impressed by Barkley's poise. Barkley played in Oregon's Autzen Stadium as a freshman, was a four-year starter in high school and college, and impressed Kelly during an in-person interview at February's scouting combine. Kelly compared quarterbacks to tea bags: It's unknown what they can do until they're put in hot water.
Barkley possesses the "intangible qualities you really look for, and it's tough to quantify it," Kelly said. "There's not a test for it. But over time, you watch him play, he's played through all kinds of different scenarios at USC."
Questions leading up to the draft focused on Barkley's arm strength. He has rehabbed his shoulder and is expected to be ready for rookie minicamp beginning May 10. Eagles quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor had a private workout with Barkley. Kelly said Barkley "can deliver the ball," and that arm strength can be overrated.
Barkley said he'll show arm strength in camp and that he was relieved when Howie Roseman called Saturday and asked if he wanted to be an Eagle, putting an end to three-day wait.
"Just give me a shot," Barkley said.
Roseman said that when he went home on Friday, Barkley's availability stuck out "like a sore thumb." Of all eight Eagles picks, it was most surprising to Roseman that Barkley remained on the board when they selected him.
Barkley is the fifth quarterback on the Eagles roster. He joins Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Dennis Dixon, and G.J. Kinne. The quarterback who wins the job will not need to be mobile, Kelly said.
"In this league, you got to be able to throw the football," Kelly said. "That's the first skill set we're looking for. Repetitive accuracy is the No. 1 quality we're looking for in a quarterback."