Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:04 pm
LOS ANGELES -- USC's biggest stars did not do a lot of work at Pro Day on Wednesday but there was no lack of drama.
Offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry, ranked in NFLDraftScout.com's top 32 with Kalil in the top five of Rob Rang's Big Board, did some position drills but did not replicate any of their NFL combine work because they were pleased with their initial results.
"These drills come easy to me," said Kalil, who is projected to be the third pick in the NFL draft. "It's cool to look at (mock drafts). But anything can happen on draft day."
Kalil (6-foot-6 5/8, 308 pounds) said he would take USC coach Lane Kiffin to New York as a guest for the NFL draft in April, when he'll be one of the dozen or so prospects in attendance at the Thursday primetime event.
"Coach Kiffin did a lot for me," he said. "He will be in the green room with me."
Perry, who weighed 270 pounds, said he "could have done better" on some of his position drills but was pleased overall, especially combined with his combine results. He is projected to be a first-round pick.
"I get asked a lot by NFL teams about certain schemes because everyone wants to know if I can also play in a 3-4 (defense)," Perry said. "It's good to be in the conversation (for the first round)."
USC defensive tackle Armond Armstead was not as fortunate.
He was informed by the school Tuesday night that university attorneys would not allow him to participate in Pro Day because of liability issues.
USC would not clear Armstead to play last season because of an unspecified medical condition that was discovered last spring. Armstead experienced chest pains last year but neither he nor school officials ever disclosed any medical problems.
He was expected to transfer to another school for his senior year but recently decided instead to turn pro.
"One of my main reasons to transfer was to play with brother (Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead)," Armond said. "But I wasn't allowed (by USC) to transfer to another Pac-12 school."
Armond Armstead said he was "perfectly healthy" and would have his own Pro Day on April 9. He underwent an NFL evaluation following the 2010 season and said was projected as a second-round pick. He looked noticeably slimmer and weighed 285 pounds at USC on Wednesday.
"I'm in good shape," Armstead said. "I'm not combine ready. I'm just looking for an opportunity to play football. "
Defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, who mysteriously did not work out at the NFL combine after arriving in Indianapolis, said he was medically excluded because a Cleveland Browns doctor discovered he had a natural heart defect known as patent foramen ovale.
A "PFO" is a flap or valve-like opening present in everyone before birth but seals shut for 80 percent of the population. It does have symptoms. Harris said his personal cardiologist emailed all NFL teams to assure them he was OK.
"I hope teams realize I was fine," Harris said. "I feel I did pretty good."Harris (6-3, 304) ran the 40-yard dash in 5.07 seconds.
Tailback Marc Tyler, who experienced a disappointing combine, redeemed himself with a time of 4.64 in the 40. He said he pulled a hamstring in Indianapolis and was nervous throughout his workouts.
"It was way better (Wednesday)," Tyler said.
Tyler said NFL teams asked him about a possible drinking problem after his famous video on TMZ.com last summer that resulted in a one-game suspension.
"I've gotten a lot of questions," he said. "I just told the truth. I made mistakes and drank too much."
Posted on: February 29, 2012 4:08 pm
You've heard it all before... Every team in the league has at one time or another answered a question about workout results from the Combine with something along the lines of, "We don't draft players based on the Combine. What happens on the field is most important."
Because what happens on the field is most important when determining how a prospect is likely to play at the next level, I'm highlighting five prospects whose film doesn't jive with the size, strength, speed or overall athleticism they showed at the Combine.
Call these players "workout warriors." Refer to it as "manufactured speed." Characterize it as "weight room strength that doesn't translate onto the field." Call it whatever you like. Just don't get too caught up on these prospects rising up charts despite posting some of the more impressive workouts of the 2012 Scouting Combine.
OLB Zach Brown, North Carolina: Well known in the scouting community for his jaw-dropping athleticism, it came as no surprise that Brown proved one of the fastest pound-for-pound athletes tested this year at the Combine. While he clocked in at 4.50 "officially" at the Combine and in the mid 4.4s from others sitting in the stands, don't let his timed speed fool you. Brown doesn't locate the football as quickly as most teams would like and is a passive "chase" linebacker who consistently runs around blocks rather than fighting through them. More than one scout has compared Brown's "instincts" to that of former No. 4 overall pick Aaron Curry. That's no compliment.
TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: By posting 27 repetitions of 225 pounds Fleener would have tied for the lead among all tight ends tested at the Combine in 2011 and finished tied for second (behind Georgia's Orson Charles' 35 reps) this year. The gaudy totals might have you thinking that Fleener is a physical blocker. He's not. He's actually a bit of a finesse player whose size and speed make him arguably the tight end in this draft likeliest to earn comparisons to New Orleans' star Jimmy Graham. Fleener is an intriguing talent but don't let the bench press numbers fool you into thinking teams will rest easy with his in-line blocking strength or tenacity.
WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois: Unlike some of the others on this list, Jenkins was very productive in college. He led the Big 10 with 90 receptions as a senior, earning First Team All-conference honors. He runs well and shows good fluidity and balance as a route-runner on the field but isn't the big-play blazer that his 4.39 second time in the 40-yard dash would suggest.
DE/OLB Nick Perry, Southern Cal: Perry worked out with the defensive linemen and ranked among the position's best in speed (4.64), power (35 reps) and explosiveness (38.5" vertical), turning in as impressive of an all-around performance at the Combine as anyone, regardless of position. He's on my Big Board so I believe he warrants first round consideration, but he isn't as dominant on the field as his lofty numbers in these traits might lead you to believe. Too many of his 9.5 sacks in 2011, in fact, were of the coverage variety.
S Sean Richardson, Vanderbilt: Richardson may have enjoyed the most impressive all-around workout by any safety tested in Indianapolis but the tape shows a player who doesn't play with the desired read-and-react skills and ball skills most teams are looking for as the last line of defense.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 8:06 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:46 pm
The Trojans may have lost offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry early to the NFL, but they can take solace in the fact that junior free safety T.J. McDonald will be returning for his senior campaign.
McDonald, the son of former Southern Cal All-American and San Francisco 49er Tim McDonald, announced via an interview at USCTrojans.com the news Wednesday afternoon.
The video, which can be seen below and by following this link, as well, shows McDonald in full USC regalia answering various questions about his decision, the role his father and head coach Lane Kiffin played in the decision and what, if any, impact T.J.'s choice may have on Southern Cal's other prominent junior known to be considering making the NFL leap, junior quarterback Matt Barkley.
McDonald cites both team and personal goals as seasons why he made the choice to return. The potential to play in a bowl game as well as match his father's All-American pedigree, compete for the Thorpe Award and get his degree are specifically mentioned.
Though McDonald is rated as NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 free safety potentially available for the 2012 draft, the decision is a sound one. McDonald, who like former USC standout Taylor Mays, is at his best driving downhill towards the line of scrimmage, would be challenging a relatively strong class of senior safeties and is likely to enter next year as the elite prospect at his position.
McDonald finished 2011 with 67 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss. The 6-2, 205 pound junior led the team with three interceptions and also blocked a kick and recovered a fumble in earning First Team All-Pac-12 honors this season.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:47 pm
A couple of weeks ago I predicted that the first underclassment to declare early for the NFL draft might come from Miami and Southern California. This was not only because of the fact that both programs are consistent producers of talent but also because neither was going to be playing in a bowl game this year.
I anticipated a few 'Canes and Trojans might leave early. Instead, it is quickly proving to be a case of mass exodus from both programs -- which continued on Friday with the news that offensive tackle Brandon Washington and defensive end Olivier Vernon were leaving Miami for the NFL.
They join redshirt sophomore running back Lamar Miller, wide receiver Tommy Streeter and defensive tackle Marcus Forston in former 'Canes leaving Al Golden's program for the NFL since the end of the season.
Southern Cal, likewise has already seen two prospects leave early -- offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry. Quarterback Matt Barkley and safety T.J. McDonald are also known to be strongly considering making the leap.
Of the two newest underclassmen leaving Coral Gables, Washington is the more highly regarded pro prospect. The 6-4, 320 pound Washington has starred for the Hurricanes at left tackle and left guard. Though he played well outside at tackle this season, most project him back inside at guard in the NFL. Washington has a short, stock build. He is surprisingly light on his feet and plays with intensity and physicality. The feeling among scouts is that Washington could play outside at the next level, but he could become a Pro Bowl caliber guard.
Washington had previously told members of the media that he was returning to school, explaining that he had not even petitioned the NFL for a grade, was excited about the progress Miami was making and was committed to earning the college degree that no one else in his family had previously attained.
The lure of NFL dollars, however, must have proven too much for Washington. He is currently behind only Stanford's David DeCastro (who also is leaving school early) among NFLDraftScout.com's 2013 guard prospects.
Vernon is a very surprising choice to leave early considering that he was suspended for the first six games of the season due to taking accepting innappropriate benefits from a booster and registered just 18 tackles on the season. The 6-3, 265 pound true junior had flashed earlier in his career, recording 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks a year ago. Vernon has an explosive burst off the snap but still needs a lot of technical work to earn consistent playing time at the pro level. He is viewed as a prospect potentially capable of making the switch to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme, which does help his cause.
At this early point, however, Vernon is only ranked 29th among defensive ends in the 2013 class and thus not even a surely draftable commodity.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:13 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:48 pm
As it turns out, Matt Kalil is heading off to the NFL early, after all.
Beginning with a tweet from ESPN's Chris Mortensen and later confirmed by direct quotes from Kalil to the Los Angeles Times, Kalil erased any doubt about his future intentions.
The AP All-American told Gary Klein of the Times that "It was definitely a tough decision because I love SC. But, it's a special opportunity. It's time to move on."
It had been widely presumed that Kalil -- rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a potential top ten pick since September -- would strongly consider making the leap. He'd proven himself in two starting seasons as the Trojans' left tackle, keeping the Dallas Cowboys' 2010 first round pick Tyron Smith on the right side and earning comparisons to the great Tony Boselli along the way.
As such, when I heard rumbling a week ago that Kalil was "set to return" to USC I was as surprised as anyone. Upon hearing news of Kalil's confirmed intent to file early for the draft, I contacted my source again.
"I am surprised he is coming out," the source said, "especially with so much time before [the January 15] deadline. The impression I had was that [Kalil's] decision was going to take into account strongly whatever the quarterback decided to do. It almost seemed like the quarterback was looking for an excuse to come back. He loves it there. So, there was talk that he might come back and in doing so convince Kalil to do the same. The fact that [USC] would be past the bowl ban next year was a pretty big motivator for some of the guys."
Lane Kiffin's bunch is talented enough to once again be a primetime player in the Pac-12 conference even without their latest Morris Trophy winner, but with the offensive tackle and defensive end Nick Perry both leaving the Trojans early for the NFL, it will certainly be made more difficult.
It also puts the spotlight directly on quarterback Matt Barkley, who hasn't yet made a formal decision about his intentions.
Posted on: December 15, 2011 5:14 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:48 pm
'Tis the season for underclassmen to leave college early for a chance at the NFL.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 1:30 pm
Considered possible top five picks in next April's NFL draft, it should come as no surprise that Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley and left tackle Matt Kalil are considering leaving school early.
According to multiple sources, these aren't the only Trojans exploring their options.
Defensive end Nick Perry, a 6-3, 250 pounder in the midst of a breakout campaign is also strongly considering making the jump to the pros. I've been told that if Perry receives a first round grade, the decision has essentially been made. Even if the grade he receives from the NFL Advisory Committee is "a little lower than [first round], he'd still likely go."
Perry led the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks through the regular season. He also has 13 tackles for loss among his 54 stops, which ties him for third in the conference and three forced fumbles. While slimmer than scouts might want as a full-time defensive end in the 4-3 alignment, Perry's size and athleticism may make him perfectly suited to transition to outside linebacker for a 3-4 club.
Free safety T.J. McDonald is also strongly considering making the leap to the NFL early. The son of former USC All-American and San Francisco 49ers' All-Pro safety Tim McDonald, the 6-2, 205 pound Trojan star has a build and reputation as a big hitter reminiscent of former USC standout Taylor Mays. McDonald has proven to be more comfortable in coverage than his former teammate, however, and has better ball skills. He leads the team with three interceptions this year and had three in 2010, when he earned Second Team All Pac-10 honors in just his first season as a starter. McDonald led the Trojans in tackles (89) in 2010. He finished third this season with 67 stops, including 2.5 for loss.
Perry is currently rated 30th overall on my Big Board and is sixth overall among defensive ends on NFLDraftScout.com's rankings.
McDonald is my 40th rated prospect and ranks second behind only Alabama's Mark Barron among NFLDraftScout.com's 2012 free safety prospects.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:04 pm
Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.
WR Marvin McNutt, Iowa: Overshadowed by Derrell Johnson Koulianos for much of his career, McNutt has emerged as one of the country's most feared receivers. Big (6-2, 215), physical and a better athlete than most think, McNutt has been difficult to stop this season, catching 57 passes for 959 yards and nine scores. McNutt will have his hands full against the conference's elite defense in Michigan State. This game begins at noon ET and will be broadcast by ESPN2.
DL Billy Winn, Boise State: At 6-3, 300 Winn has the size and athleticism to intrigue scouts working for three and four man fronts, alike. Unfortunately, he's battled with inconsistency throughout his career. Viewed as a potential first round pick heading into the season, Winn's stock has already slipped to the second round on many boards and is even lower on others. With TCU the best opponent he'll face the rest of the regular season, Winn could go a long way towards steadying his stock with a strong game. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by Versus.