(The opinions and analysis contained in this feature are those of the author and others credited and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the Seahawks’ coaching staff and personnel department)
Matt Barkley is no stranger to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
It was Carroll who recruited Barkley to USC while coaching there, and Carroll who has admitted he had to play Barkley too soon when incumbent starting quarterback Mark Sanchez declared himself eligible for the 2009 NFL Draft following his junior season with the Trojans – and was the fifth pick overall by the Jets.
Barkley also flirted with an early entry into the NFL, but decided to return for his senior season – only to injure his passing shoulder in a late-season loss to UCLA that prevented him from playing in the Trojans’ bowl game and working out at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
“He’s a guy as a junior at USC who looked so much different than he did last year,” said Mike Mayock, draft analyst for the NFL Network. “I think to be fair to him, you have to go back and watch junior tape.”
That junior Matt Barkley completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,528 yards with 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The senior Matt Barkley had a lower completion percentage (.636), fewer passing yards (3,273) and touchdowns (36) and more interceptions (15).
Barkley spent a few moments with the media at the combine, and here are some highlights from his Q&A session:
Q: Pete Carroll has said that he almost felt guilty about having to play you as a freshman after Mark Sanchez left. Do you feel that early experience helped or hindered you?
A: “I definitely think it helped. It allowed me to grow up fairly quickly and face the fire. I learned a lot that freshman year. Had some great moments, and some not-so-great moments. Just that game experience, I think, helped lead into that sophomore year. I still remember things to this day about that (freshman) year in terms of game situations, handling adversity, that I brought with me to help me over my career.”
Q: What lessons did you learn from Sanchez?
A: “I’ve known Mark. I didn’t play with him at USC; I came in right as he left. We’ve thrown in the offseason here and there. I stay in touch with him, a text during the season, periodically. He got kind of thrown (through) the gauntlet in New York. That kind of opened my eyes, seeing all these players go before me from USC, and even other programs – how they handled things, the great things that they did. … I’m sure they’ve learned from their mistakes, just like I’ve learned from my mistakes. Seeing these veterans in front of me, I’ve learned a lot on how to handle the media, how to handle being in a big market like New York, how to handle that locker-room environment.”
Q: What do you credit for the dip in your production last season?
A: “Every year is not going to be the same. Think about it: You can’t get better (statistically) every single year. It’s physically impossible to throw for more yards and more yards and more yards every year. There are going to be some years when it just doesn’t click and things don’t go as planned. This was just one of those years.”
Q: How would you answer the critics who say you don’t have an NFL-caliber arm?
A: “I would disagree. Look at the tape. Watch the tape. I’m not going to go through certain throws, but you can watch the tape where I’ve made throws in tight windows. I can make every NFL throw that you need. So I would disagree.”
Q: Do you feel you’re the best quarterback in this draft class?
A: “I believe I am. I don’t think you can go into the draft not thinking you are. I definitely believe I am, yes sir.”