2018 NFL Draft

Finding the Fits: Barkley is the future in Philly

Finding the Fits: Barkley is the future in Philly

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

During the next several weeks, NFLDraftScout.com will review the more intriguing picks made during the 2013 NFL Draft in a series called "Finding the Fits." The goal of the series is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who appears to be a good schematic fit and, therefore, more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his pro career.

Philadelphia Eagles' Best Fit: QB Matt Barkley, Southern Cal, 4th Round, No. 98 overall

Possessing just average athleticism overall, Barkley might not appear to be an ideal fit in the spread option attack that new Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly used to such great effectiveness while leading the Oregon Ducks.

As such, the Eagles' trade up to nab the former Southern California star is perhaps the best evidence yet that Kelly plans to incorporate a more conventional pro-style attack into his offense. If so, Barkley's intelligence, quick release and very good accuracy while on the move could make him a steal at No. 98 overall.

Having starred in a pro-style offense throughout his high school and collegiate career, Barkley is perhaps as ready to contribute as a starting NFL quarterback as any passer from the 2013 draft class.

While Barkley does not possess eye-popping straight-line speed or a howitzer for an arm, he does possess an impressive combination of the Three A's -- accuracy, awareness and anticipation -- traits that have historically translated into success in the NFL.

According to multiple sources, Barkley fell on draft day because scouts are worried that he's physically maxed out. Clearly, he does not offer the upside that incumbent starter Michael Vick possesses, which is why it would be an upset for Barkley to overtake him as the club's opening day starter, despite the fact that Kelly has steadily maintained that the Eagles' starting quarterback role, like every other position, is an open competition.

Scouts questioned after the draft said that they did not believe teams pushed Barkley down the board due to the unique talent he'd been surrounded with at USC. If skill-position talent surrounding Barkley was an issue for some teams, it won't be in Philadelphia, where, with LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin (among others) for defenders to focus on, quarterbacks have plenty of playmakers to exploit.

In large part due to his ability to get the ball to his playmakers quickly, expect to see Barkley quickly pass Nick Foles on the Eagles' depth chart.

And with Vick on a one-year deal and having played a full 16 regular season games only once in 10 NFL seasons, Barkley could prove a fit in Philly sooner rather than later.

Eye on the Eagles (Other thoughts on Philadelphia's 2013 draft class):

Lane Johnson may have been the third offensive tackle selected but it isn't out of the question that he earned the highest grade on the Eagles' board.

A poll conducted among veteran NFL scouts in the weeks leading up to the draft had the former quarterback, tight end and defensive end earning higher marks than eventual No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel.

"Johnson lacks [Fisher and Joeckel's] polish but he's a considerably better athlete," said one longtime scout. "Look at how much he's improved just this year. In a year or two, he'll be the best of the bunch and it may not be close."

The ultra-athletic ex-Sooner might be the best suited to handle the up-tempo pace Kelly is expected to keep in Philadelphia. Kelly's offense also often asked linemen to release from the line of scrimmage and block in space -- qualities that Johnson demonstrated with the Sooners as well as during practices at the Senior Bowl.

Another interesting fit for Kelly's offense could be ex-Stanford tight end Zach Ertz, a classic move tight end with the soft hands and athleticism to take advantage of the one-on-one matchups defenses must dedicate to tight ends for the Eagles given the rest of the Eagles' playmakers.

Playing time might be hard to find for Ertz, however, as the Eagles boast several other athletic tight ends already in Brent Celek, Clay Harbor and free-agent addition James Casey.

While Ertz has the talent to turn heads should he get the opportunity, it could be another former Pac-12 standout drafted later who is the most pleasant surprise in Philadelphia.

Anyone playing the University of Utah the past few seasons dedicated their blocking assignments toward slowing down defensive tackle Star Lotulelei but 6-6, 270-pound defensive end Joe Kruger earned honorable mention all-conference honors with 30 tackles, eight tackles for loss and six sacks of his own. The long-armed, high-effort defender doesn't possess elite burst off the edge but is an underrated athlete with the power, toughness and selflessness to contribute as a five-technique defensive end in what is expected to be a largely 3-4 based defense.

-- The Eagles' 2013 draft class:

1st Round - No. 4 overall - OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

2nd Round - No. 35 overall - TE Zach Ertz, Stanford

3rd Round - No. 67 overall - DT Bennie Logan, LSU

4th Round - No. 98 overall - QB Matt Barkley, Southern Cal

5th Round - No. 136 overall - S Earl Wolff, North Carolina State

7th Round - No. 212 overall - DE Joe Kruger, Utah

7th Round - No. 218 overall - CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State

7th Round - No. 239 overall - DE David King, Oklahoma

-- Key Undrafted Free Agents Signed:

LB Jake Scott, Iowa State

RB Miguel Maysonet, Stony Brook

WR Russell Shepard, LSU

DT Damion Square, Alabama

P Brad Wing, LSU

Read more about all of the Eagles' picks here.

Read all of the Finding the Fits series here.

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