Matt Barkley answers a question during a news conference at the NFL combine… (Michael Conroy / Associated…)
USC quarterback Matt Barkley doesn't want Matt Leinart's NFL career, but Barkley would do well to have the type of campus pro day that Leinart had.
Seven years ago, when there were questions about Leinart's ability to make all the throws he would need for the next level, he answered them with an outstanding performance for pro scouts. He was selected 10th overall by Arizona, a good start to an injury-plagued career that has yet to get off the ground.
Now, it's Barkley's turn. His throwing will be the main event Wednesday at USC's pro day, with scouts from all over the league converging on campus to get a look at him. Also on display will be receiver Robert Woods, offensive lineman Khaled Holmes, defensive end Wes Horton, safeties T.J. McDonald and Jawanza Starling, and cornerback Nickell Robey.
Barkley chose not to throw at the scouting combine in February, explaining that his recuperating throwing shoulder wasn't quite as healthy as it could be. At USC, he can execute a choreographed series of throws in a controlled environment, with familiar receivers on the other end of his passes.
"He needs to show that he can sit on his back foot and still drive the ball," said draft expert Greg Cosell, senior producer at NFL Films. "He needs to show that he has sufficient arm strength so that offenses don't have to limit what they do in the passing game if he were their quarterback."
Barkley, a likely first-round pick, was sidelined for the final two games of last season after suffering a separated shoulder near the end of a loss to UCLA in November.