2017 NFL Draft

Barkley injury heightens QB debate

Barkley injury heightens QB debate

By Dane Brugler | NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst

Contrary to previous reports, USC quarterback Matt Barkley will not throw at the NFL Scouting Combine this week as he continues to rehab his throwing shoulder injury, according to a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The combine begins Wednesday, with quarterbacks arriving Thursday and scheduled for their on-field workouts Sunday. While he won't throw, Barkley might still participate in the agility drills, such as the 40-yard dash, and is expected to impress teams throughout the interview process.

According to Schefter's sources, Barkley's shoulder is "85-90 percent recovered" and he has already been cleared to throw at the Trojans' pro day on March 27 in Southern California. He suffered the right-shoulder injury in late November when he was knocked out of the UCLA game on a sack by Anthony Barr. Barkley was forced to watch the regular-season finale against Notre Dame and the bowl game from the sidelines and wasn't able to participate in the Senior Bowl last month.

Scouts are well aware of Barkley's skill set and his passing talents, so while it's disappointing he won't be on the field throwing next to West Virginia's Geno Smith and others, NFL teams will be anxious to get him on the hot seat to test his between-the-ears ability. The combine will be important for the medical evaluation and interview process, which can be just as important in the eyes of scouts. As long as he is fully healthy for his pro day next month, missing the combine shouldn't have much, if any, effect on Barkley's final draft grade or where he ends up on draft weekend, which begins April 25.

However, this chaotic quarterback draft class has more questions than answers entering the combine, and with Barkley unable to throw, this group will continue to mystify into April. Neither Barkley or Smith participated in the Senior Bowl, but Smith plans to throw and do a full workout in Indianapolis.

After bypassing a probable top-10 pick and the NFL last season, it was a nightmare senior year for Barkley as the Trojans finished 7-5, their first season under eight wins since 2001. He has only average height, arm strength and athleticism, but was able to beat defenses with his smart throws and quick decisions. However he didn't take care of the ball in 2012 with twice as many interceptions as 2011 as he struggled to take his game to the next level.

Barkley is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2-rated quarterback and a projected first-round pick. He appears at No. 7 overall to the Cardinals in Rob Rang's mock draft but does not appear in Dane Brugler's most recent draft projection (first-round mock drafts as of Feb. 18).

The news of Barkley not throwing at the combine is a subtle reminder that the quarterback rankings will be fluid over the next two months.

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