Accuracy: In general, Barkley is a very accurate thrower. He will place the ball on the receiver’s hands for them to make yards after the catch. Barkley is very good knowing when to use touch and when to zip the ball. He will place the ball away from defenders, even if it means throwing near the receiver’s feet. Barkley throws the fade route well, and can drop the ball into a receiver’s hands around and over defenders. However, he sometimes underthrows on deep balls and gives his receivers limited time to make adjustments.
Arm Strength: Overall, Barkley has a good arm that can be effective in the NFL, but lacks an elite arm, particularly on downfield throws. On short to intermediate routes, Barkley has the ability to drive the ball. He can still make throws with velocity on his back foot or awkward stances. On longer routes, he tends to rely more on his excellent timing and touch, and is more likely to underthrow receivers than overthrow them. The ball comes out well with a tight spiral.
Athleticism/Mobility: Not a great athlete by any stretch, but will take off and run when needed, and only as a last option. Good thrower on the run going to the right and left. Can acoid and run around defenders in the pocket. Overall, he has all the athleticism and running ability required of an NFL quarterback.
Decision Making: Barkley is not afraid to push the ball downfield in a play-action heavy offense, and will even throw into double coverage down the field. Does not throw the ball away often and does not take a lot of sacks. He generally takes what the defense gives him, but when he does gamble, the situation is appropriate. Has shown the ability to look off defenders and throws with anticipation.
Field Vision: Intelligent player that reads defenses and checks in and out of runs when appropriate. Playing in an NFL-style offense should prepare him for what he will see at the next level. Not bothered by the rush whatsoever as he keeps his eyes downfield and is always looking to throw before taking off with it. Barkley gets the ball out quickly and decisively, often going with his first read. When it is not there, he hangs in the pocket and goes through his progressions.
Mechanics: Barkley has a quick release and gets the ball out fast. Throws from the ear and keeps two hands on the ball. In an NFL-style offense, he takes almost all of his snaps from under center, which will translate well on the next level. He has shown the ability to drop his release point to evade rushers.
His footwork is solid, but when under some pressure, it can get a bit awkward. Is often used on rollouts, and is impressively accurate when unable to set his feet and drives the ball well. Good at using the play-fake.
Pocket Awareness/Poise: Rarely, if ever, looks at the oncoming rush. Has a natural clock in his head and gets the ball out on time. Does not take a lot of his because of how quickly he gets the ball out. He would rather throw on an awkward stance than step into a hit.
Final Word: Barkley has enough talent to become an immediate starter in the NFL. He lacks the “elite” arm possessed by guys like Matthew Stafford, but has enough arm strength to make all the NFL throws. He hits his receivers in stride with good accuracy. After spending his entire college career in a pro-style offense and taking snaps from under center, the transition to the next level should be easier.
Had it not have been for Andrew Luck, Barkley would be in the conversation for the top selection in April’s draft. Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Barkley is how much experience he has as a four-year starter in a top program, and he has shown improvement each year as a starter.