New York — Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley has finally found a home.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded up to select Barkley with the first pick of the fourth round (98th overall). Barkley was projected as a top five draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but opted to return to USC for his senior season.
Philadelphia traded their fourth and seventh round draft picks to Jacksonville to move up.
“It’s different coaching staffs. It’s like comparing apples to oranges,” Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said of his familiarity with Barkley while coaching in the Pac-12. “We are going to evaluate Matt Barkley as Matt Barkley.”
Barkley was considered one of the top overall players in college football after the 2011 season in which he threw for 3,528 yards with 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He led the Trojans to a 10-2 record, which included a shocking late-season win against Kelly’s Oregon Ducks. The school, though, was ineligible for conference and postseason play to due NCAA violations.
Barkley shocked many by announcing he would return for his senior season, although many draft analysts projected him as a sure first-rounder. This past season, Barkley and the Trojans were the preseason favorite to win the BCS national championship, but the season quickly got out of hand.
The team finished with a disappointing 7-6 record. To make matters worse, Barkley injured his shoulder in a late-season loss to UCLA. Much of the reason for his drop in the draft related to questions surrounding the injury, even forcing the 6-foot-2, 227-pounder to miss most drills at the NFL Combine in February.
Other fourth-round action was highlighted with more quarterback prospects. Syracuse Orange signal-caller Ryan Nassib landed with the Giants after New York traded up to take him with the 110th pick.
Nassib, who was also rumored to be a potential first-round selection, thrived at Syracuse under current Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone. Last fall, Nassib threw for 3,749 yards and 26 touchdowns versus 10 interceptions.
Arkansas standout quarterback Tyler Wilson was selected by the Oakland Raiders two picks later.
Wilson, who holds school records with career passing yards (7,765), completions (593) and completion percentage (62.6 percent), earned first-team All-SEC honors in 2011 after throwing for 24 touchdowns with six interceptions.
Last season, however, the Razorbacks struggled to a 4-8 record, while Wilson dealt with various injuries and threw for 3,387 yards and 21 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.
With the 115th selection, the Pittsburgh Steelers stuck with the quarterback trend and selected Oklahoma Sooner stud Landry Jones. The 6-foot-4 Jones finished his four-year career as the Big 12 Conference’s all-time leader in passing yards (16,646) and total offense (16,271). Jones also amassed 123 career touchdown passes.
The San Francisco 49ers added to their already stocked backfield with the 131st pick of the fourth round, choosing South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore.
The 5-foot-11, 221-pounder, ended his Gamecock career early this past season after a horrific knee injury versus Tennessee. It was the second year in a row he had a knee injury, moving his draft status back. Lattimore, an All-SEC honorable mention selection, still managed to rush for 662 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games last season despite the setback.
“This is a great opportunity with a great organization and I can’t wait to get there,” Lattimore said.
One of the best running backs in South Carolina history, he finished his three-year career ranking first in rushing touchdowns (38) and total touchdowns (41), while rushing for 2,677 yards.
Another notable selection came in the fifth round. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson with the 135th overall pick.
Robinson, who is expected to play wide receiver for the Jaguars, was a four- year starter at Michigan and finished his illustrious career with an NCAA record for a quarterback with 4,495 rushing yards.
With the 254th and final pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts made South Carolina tight end Justice Cunningham this year’s Mr. Irrelevant.
Mr. Irrelevant was selected by the Colts for the second consecutive year. Quarterback Chandler Harnish was picked last in the 2012 draft.