USC quarterback Matt Barkley was projected to go as high as the first round, but he slipped to the fourth round, where he was drafted Saturday by the Eagles.
Alas, the round of the quarterback came Saturday, when Matt Barkley led off the fourth round and Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib, Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones weren’t far behind.
Barkley was projected to be the fifth USC quarterback drafted in the first round, but every team passed on him multiple times in the first three rounds.
Coach Chip Kelly said Saturday Barkley will be in a “wide open” competition for the starting job.
“I’m an Eagle!! Time to fly baby,” Barkley wrote on Twitter.
General manager Howie Roseman and the Eagles jumped ahead of former Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs, who held the 99th overall pick, to get Barkley. The Chiefs selected inside linebacker Nico Johnson. Barkley said Saturday he had heard the Chiefs were working to move up to draft him.
Barkley was a four-year starter at Southern Cal. He missed the final two games and postseason with a shoulder injury and was molded in a pro-style offense. Now he’ll get a chance to run Kelly’s fast-breaking spread offense.
“The accuracy part is more important than arm strength,” Kelly said.
Nassib was the fifth quarterback drafted in 2013. He was chosen 110th overall, two picks before the Oakland Raiders snagged Wilson and then at No. 115, the Steelers drafted Jones.
All three enter the NFL as backups in an era when rookies more commonly earn starting spots.
The Steelers have been outspoken about their need to find a steady second option behind Ben Roethlisberger and were at Jones’ Pro Day in Norman. They also met with the Sooners’ four-year starter at the 2013 Scouting Combine.
Nassib, one of the top 50 players in the 2013 class according to NFLDraftScout.com, had a 26-to-10 TD-to-INT ratio as a senior. The product of Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin’s alma mater is the first Syracuse quarterback drafted since Donovan McNabb in 1999. He shouldn’t plan on a regular role immediately.
Eli Manning currently leads NFL quarterbacks with 135 consecutive regular-season games played.
Wilson, who replaced Ryan Mallett as Arkansas’ starter in 2011, was hindered by a weaker supporting cast and unexpected coaching change just before the season when Bobby Petrino was fired. He steps into a less daunting competition for time with veteran Matt Flynn listed first on the Oakland Raiders’ depth chart. Flynn has never been a fulltime starter and lost a QB competition to Russell Wilson with the Seattle Seahawks in training camp last summer.
Michigan’s Robinson to Jaguars as RB
Denard Robinson ran position drills for scouts and coaches at four different positions in the past four months, but the Michigan quarterback was drafted in the fifth round (135th overall) by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a running back.
Robinson started 35 games for the Wolverines at quarterback and spent most of the past three months concentrating on transitioning to wide receiver. Others viewed Robinson exclusively as a return specialist and some felt he was a candidate to convert to cornerback.
“They can put me in at receiver or running back or whatever,” Robinson said Saturday. “There’s a lot of different positions, so I’m excited about doing that.”
Even though he lined up behind center at Michigan, Robinson (5-9, 199) started two games at running back at the end of the 2012 season and there’s little doubt his best asset is his ability to run with the ball. He set the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 4,495 yards.
“Whatever it takes to get on the field,” Robinson said. “That’s what I’m going to do.”
Robinson grew up in Deerfield Beach, Fla., just a few hours from Jacksonville.
Jacksonville drafted South Carolina slot receiver Ace Sanders in the fourth round. He’s small -- 5-7, 177 -- by NFL standards and durability is a concern with both players.
The Jaguars were determined to improve their offense and particularly find playmakers to help balance the field. Defenses were rarely forced to honor the Jaguars’ passing game in the past and zeroed in on stopping running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Jacksonville was 30th in points and rushing last season and 29th in total offense.