Matt Barkley's NFL ceiling

Gruden's QB Camp: Matt Barkley (3:25)

At Jon Gruden's QB Camp, former USC QB Matt Barkley talks about his decision to return to USC for his senior season and his recovery from a shoulder injury. (3:25)

For the Jon Gruden QB Camp series, we wanted Insiders to see a little more. So we dispatched ESPN.com NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas to Tampa, Fla., to sit in with the coach and squeeze out a little more insight. This is the result.

Everybody tells me Matt Barkley has hit his ceiling.

"He's not going to get any better, Jon," I had somebody tell me that the other day. On the face of it I can see the argument. This is a guy who's thrown 1,562 passes at the college level in 47 games -- that's a pretty big pile of tape. And at the end of that progression, his numbers fell across the board in 2012 after a great 2011. Those numbers say the accuracy dropped (69 percent to 64 percent) and bad decision-making rose (double the INTs). Add it up, and you could build a profile in your head of a player who was as good as he could be, then leveled off.

But I don't buy it.

I've seen Barkley up close. I've watched tape. He hasn't hit his ceiling. In fact, they haven't even tapped into his ability to run an offense like he'd be able to at the NFL level. Now, some people talk about "ceiling" in the sense that it's when a guy can make every throw, carves up defenses deep and isn't just throwing dink-and-dunk stuff. But that's not true, and with Barkley the ceiling is higher because he can become less aggressive.