Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chip gets his quarterback

The Eagles' draft took an unexpected turn Saturday.

Chip gets his quarterback

The Eagles drafted USC quarterback Matt Barkley in the fourth round. (AP Photo)
The Eagles drafted USC quarterback Matt Barkley in the fourth round. (AP Photo)

The Eagles' draft took an interesting and unexpected turn right away Saturday, when the Eagles used a seventh-round pick to trade up for the first selection of the day, the initial pick of the fourth round. They took USC quarterback Matt Barkley, a much-heralded prospect a year ago who elected not to enter the QB-heavy 2012 draft. But Barkley suffered a shoulder injury, the Trojans stumbled, and Barkley cost himself many millions of dollars.

More important to Eagles fans is that new coach Chip Kelly drafted a quarterback. Given the fact that the team traded up to be in position to take him, with a porous secondary still unaddressed in the draft, you'd have to think Barkley is Kelly's quarterback of the future. Kelly acknowledged that he called last year's quarterback of the future, Nick Foles, so Foles wouldn't be surprised by the pick.

Barkley is not a fleet-footed, option-type QB, so maybe that is good news for Foles, proving Kelly does have use for drop-back passers. But it's hard to ignore that Barkley is the QB the new coach drafted, and Foles is the QB the old coach drafted.

There was speculation the Eagles traded up with Jacksonville to keep that old coach, Andy Reid, from drafting Barkley on behalf of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs denied that, according to NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock.

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"We had heard that I wasn't going to be on the board long today," Barkley told a NovaCare conference call. He seemed to be under the impression the Chiefs were interested.

"There was no better value for us to open up today with than to take Matt. He's the all-time leading passer in USC history, one of the all-time great quarterbacks to play in that league (the Pac-12). He was a four-year starter in high school, a four-year starter in college," Kelly said. "He has all the intangibles you're looking at. Coming off an injury, but did not have an operation ... if you do what everybody talks about and go to the film and go to the body of his work, he's had an outstanding career and we're excited to have him."

Barkley, 6-3, 227, is someone Kelly knew well from coaching against him in college, something that was true of three of the first four Eagles picks, excluding only Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson, the first-rounder. But before you infer that Kelly is just taking guys he liked as a coach, former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah said on NFL Network that general manager Howie Roseman was a huge Barkley fan a year ago, when Jeremiah was working for the team.

"I'm just looking ahead," said Barkley, when asked about his declining stock. He acknowledged not being able to sleep last night, after the second and third rounds passed without his name being called. He said he went on an early morning walk with his girlfriend from his California home, and when he came back, it wasn't long until Roseman was on the phone. "It's a great feeling to know that I have a home, that I have a future in Philadelphia, and I can work from here on up. It was a weird feeling, not knowing where you're going to be working, wher you're going to have a job. To finally have a home is encouraging. I cannot wait to hit the playbook and hit the field."

Staff Writer
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