With scouts and coaches from all over the NFL watching, USC’s Matt Barkley threw in public Wednesday for the first time since suffering a separated shoulder in a loss to UCLA last November.
Barkley was the featured attraction at the school’s pro day, an annual event that allows prospects to showcase their talents for NFL evaluators.
Flanked by a pair of his former USC receivers, Robert Woods and Travon Patterson, Barkley threw a series of short, intermediate and long passes, completing 56 of 62 attempts.
“I think today was just proof that I still have an arm and I still can throw and make those passes down the field,” said Barkley, who didn’t throw at the scouting combine in February because, he said, he didn’t feel his shoulder was quite as recuperated as he wanted it to be.
Orchestrating the drills was former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke, who has been working with Barkley to prepare him for his transition to the pros.
“We probably added a few extra deep throws just to show that his arm is healthy,” Weinke said. “When you make  throws, very rarely are you ever going to be perfect. But I think that he showed that even the balls that he missed today were in good spots, and he has the ability to make every throw that he’s going to need to make in the National Football League.”
Barkley’s throws were into the wind, and some scouts noted that he doesn’t typically throw a tight spiral. There was some conjecture among observers that his ball wobbled more the harder he threw.
“Very rarely do you see a guy spin it perfectly every time,” Weinke said. “A lot of times the spin of the ball is manipulated by the throw, and you can’t get into a perfect position every time to throw the football. Look at Peyton Manning. Break down every throw that he’s ever made, and very rarely do you see the ball spin tightly. But he’s accurate.
“Some guys have a better natural spin of the football. [Matt] can spin it. But because he doesn’t spin it every single time doesn’t necessarily mean that he can’t do it, or that he doesn’t have the arm strength.”
This is not considered a strong quarterback draft class, and it would be somewhat surprising if Barkley were to slip out of the first round. The consensus among several scouts Wednesday was that he put on a solid performance, but not spectacular.
“It’s about what we’ve seen on tape,” one scout said. “If you liked him before, you could find reasons to like him more. If you didn’t like him, you could find reasons for that too.”