Posted April 27, 2013

Matt Barkley drafted by Eagles after fourth-round trade

NFL Draft, Philadelphia Eagles
barkley-kelly

Rivals in the Pac-12, Matt Barkley (left) and Chip Kelly will now try to forge success together with the Eagles. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Chip Kelly has said since taking the Philadelphia Eagles’ job that he could fit his offense to any quarterback. He might get a chance to prove that in the very near future.

The Eagles opened Day 3 of the NFL Draft by trading up four spots, from 101 to No. 98 overall, to grab tumbling QB Matt Barkley from USC. Next on the clock were the Chiefs and Raiders, two teams that might have considered Barkley, so the Eagles made the move.

Barkley’s skill set is a long way from the free-wheeling athleticism of Michael Vick. But it’s not all that dissimilar from current Philadelphia backup Nick Foles, who stepped into the lineup and played fairly well in spurts. The Eagles may now opt to dangle Foles as a trade piece — and he could be a valuable one, given the buzz around other backups like Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer and Kirk Cousins.

But the real story here, for now, is that Barkley finally found a home after waiting through three full rounds. That drop seems almost unfathomable when we look back on 2012, when Barkley could have turned pro and been a sure-fire top-five selection. A tough 2012 season and a shoulder injury hurt his status heading into this year’s draft, and he, along with Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib, had to wait until Saturday for a shot.

Barkley, though, may be the most NFL-ready of all the quarterbacks in this class. He does not have the huge arm of a player like Tyler Bray or the speed of an E.J. Manuel or Matt Scott — both of the latter thought to be possible fits for Kelly’s offense — but he comes from a pro-style offense at USC. And he could turn into a legitimate No. 1 QB in the NFL, given the right opportunity.

The Eagles’ decision on Foles (and possibly Vick) could dictate how soon Barkley’s chance comes. With the injury-prone Vick set to be Philadelphia’s starter, it will be imperative for Kelly to have a backup whom he trusts.

That may be Barkley, especially after Philadelphia opted to climb the ladder to No. 98 overall.

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