Undrafted quarterbacks who spend a year on the practice squad don’t generally beat out 4th-round quarterbacks after each has a year on the same squad. However, that very well could happen this year. Eagles quarterback GJ Kinne, who went undrafted out of Tulsa back in 2012, could very well beat out Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley, who the Eagles traded up to draft in the 4th round of the 2013 draft. The news out of the Eagles minicamp this year is that Barkley is not assured a spot by any means. Let’s take a look at why GJ Kinne could make the roster.
First off, Barkley did not play well when he got his chances in 2013. For a guy who was a projected top-10 pick had he declared for the 2012 draft, Barkley looked like he would have been a huge bust. In 3 games played, Barkley completed 60.1% of his throws, throwing 0 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and losing a fumble. That’s 5 turnovers and 0 scores, but who’s counting.
Barkley, both last offseason and this offseason, has been criticized for his lack of arm strength. Arm strength is an important quality in quarterbacks, as it allows them to zip the ball into tight spaces or launch the ball downfield. Barkley seems to have acknowledged this by deciding to work with former MLB pitcher Tom House, who is considered a “quarterback guru.” House has worked with quarterbacks like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Saints quarterback Drew Brees, two of the best in the business.
Kinne, on the other hand, has perhaps the strongest arm of any quarterback on the roster, including Pro Bowl quarterback Nick Foles and free agent signee Mark Sanchez. While he doesn’t have the pedigree of Barkley, he seems to have better tools. In addition to his arm strength, Kinne has the mobility that Barkley lacks.
Last year in the preseason, I thought Kinne stood out, completing some difficult throws, though to be fair that was against defensive units composed almost entirely of other players who didn’t make the final roster of their respective teams. At any rate, he performed well enough for the Eagles brass to give him a spot on the practice squad in October, when both Foles and current New York Jet Michael Vick were injured.
As far as experience in head coach Chip Kelly’s offensive system goes, Barkley seems to have a slight advantage. Though both he and Kinne have spent a year with the squad, Barkley has actually run the system against NFL defenses. That experience could separate him from Kinne in training camp and in the preseason. However, judging both players on ceiling, Kinne’s seems to be higher.
It wouldn’t be shocking to see Matt Barkley cut in favor of GJ Kinne. Although the Eagles actually drafted Barkley, both players were picked up during the Chip Kelly era, so it’s not as though one is a holdover from the Andy Reid era. Let’s hope one of the two players shines in training camp and shows they can be a viable backup in case Foles and Sanchez go down.
Tags: Philadelphia Eagles