STRENGTHS - As fundamentally sound quarterback, Barkley is able to consistently play to the limits of his ability. Smooth dropping back to pass, his excellent footwork enables him to plant and drive off back foot to make quick and accurate throws on quick hitting passes. This great technique contributes to Barkley being the most accurate passer of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft class. Not only accurate on short/intermediate passes, Barkley has great touch on deep throws. Having played in USC's pro style offense, Barkley is well versed in making the pre-snap read, making the correct checks and setting the protection. Unlike many college quarterbacks, Barkley uses shoulder fakes and his eyes to move defenders and open up receivers easily and then can get rid of the ball quickly and accurately to the receiver he opened up. Perhaps his best trait is that he does not panic under pressure and will not force passes into bad spots to avoid sacks. He consistently shows a willingness to throw the ball away.
WEAKNESSES - Barkley lacks elite physical talent. While he has a good enough arm to make all the necessary NFL throws, he lacks a premier arm and will have some issues in bad weather and windy conditions. Although he can move and slide well to avoid pressure in the pocket, he is not a top athlete and is not going to make plays scrambling with the ball. He has been playing with a lot of elite offensive weapons at USC and has not dominated consistently, which raises concerns in my eyes about how he will do when his team is equal in talent to the opponent. Additionally, despite all the talent on offense he struggled to consistently convert key third and fourth downs into first downs to keep drives alive.
SUMMARY - The rare college quarterback who never redshirted and started four years for one of the premier football programs in the country, Barkley has experienced as much pressure as any college quarterback in recent memory. While many expected him to come out early for the 2012 NFL Draft, barkley impressed many in the NFL by staying in school to try and finish what he started despite USC's sanctions. After a disappointing senior season where USC failed to achieve the great success many expected, Barkley has shown toughness, composure and grit trying to lead the team. Not a premier physical talent, he will be downgraded by some teams because there are questions about his ability to pass effectively in bad weather/windy conditions. Overall, Barkley is a much better NFL prospect than many say he is and I feel there are a lot of similarities between him coming out of USC and Drew Brees when he came out of Purdue. Based on Barkley's ability to step in and be a productive starter at USC as a true freshman, I think he will be ready to handle starting as a rookie in the NFL. I believe that Barkley will end up being a good starting quarterback in the NFL, but will need to improve his ability to convert key downs to extend drives to become better than an average NFL starter.