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Drafting Matt Barkley Puts Michael Vick On Notice

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Matt Barkley of USC may end up being the smartest pick of the entire draft. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images.
Matt Barkley of USC may end up being the smartest pick of the entire draft. Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images.

The 2013 NFL Draft brought promise and hope to a Philadelphia Eagles franchise in turmoil. Expectations never low in the City of Brotherly Love, they’ve been irrelevant in the playoff picture the last two years. Their longtime leader Andy Reid was excused after 14 seasons, and after a miserable 2012 season, they were the pigeon of the NFC East.

The Eagles had needs heading into the draft — not wants. They had a top-five selection that was most likely shopped around as a decoy, but the Eagles inevitably got their offensive lineman of the future ... hopefully.

And that is precisely the conundrum with the NFL Draft. It’s filled with hope, uncertainty, hype, doubt, upside ... and more upside. So while I won’t give an outright grade on how the Eagles did in this year’s draft, they acquired a diverse yet intriguing class of potential rookies.

The most interesting selection came in the fourth round when the Eagles brass selected Matt Barkley, the high-profile quarterback out of USC. An offensive juggernaut for the Trojans, Barkley was a five-star recruit in high school and a four-year starter for USC. Barkley’s decision to forgo the NFL after his junior year put him up against the likes of Geno Smith, EJ Manuel and Ryan Nassib in this year’s draft. Barkley’s stock slipped after a mediocre senior campaign and he found himself as a future Philadelphia Eagle when the dust settled.

Barkley’s selection exacerbated the debate over who should start at quarterback. Make no mistake about it: the Eagles have depth at the position. Michael Vick’s tenure, as if it wasn’t already in doubt, was officially put on notice.

But the great irony surrounding the Barkley acquisition was that he isn’t your prototypical mobile quarterback; that’s why this pick is tremendous. Barkley presents the notion that the quarterback may not necessarily have to be mobile in Kelly’s offense. Barkley may not start right away, but Kelly loves this kid. He put up great numbers against Kelly’s Ducks in college, and even if he doesn’t pan out in the NFL, the Eagles got him with a fourth-round selection. If he does pan out, he will epitomize value.

The Eagles will have some decisions to make at the quarterback spot. Where Barkley fits in, no one really knows. He’ll get his shot soon and, when he does, the Eagles may very well have found their quarterback of the future.