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: December 23, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:45 pm
Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley announced Thursday that he will be returning for his senior season.
Below is a video of his announcement, complete with USC cheerleaders and members of the marching band trumpeting his decision.
Barkley's decision, coupled with the other returning players they have, would appear to put USC back into the national title conversation for 2012. It also sets him up for a run at the Heisman Trophy and perhaps the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.
As my colleague Mike Freeman points out, however, Barkley's decision is a risky one. One scout Freeman spoke to, in fact, called the move a "foolish business decision." From my perspective, having a strong understanding of the quarterback talent thought likely to be returning to school with Barkley, it certainly sets up for an exciting battle between the USC quarterback, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Florida State's E.J. Manuel, among others, for to be the top senior rated passer heading into the 2011-12 season... assuming, of course, that they do decide to return, after all.
While scouts love the 6-2, 220 pound Barkley's readiness for the NFL, there is no denying that the strong arms and size of the 6-4, 230 pound Jones and 6-4, 245 pound Manuel are more physically impressive.
Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:45 am
In a five paragraph statement made to the press shortly following Indianapolis' first win of the season, Colts' vice chairman Bill Polian announced that four-time league MVP Peyton Manning has begun throwing passes to teammates but that there is "no chance" that he will play this season.
"It was determined by the doctors that there was no chance he (Manning) would play this year," Polian said, alluding to a meeting that took place on Thursday. "His rehabilitation has not come far enough to make it prudent for him to step on the field in game action. He may practice in some very scripted and circumscribed circumstances if he wishes. That's entirely up to him."
Perhaps it is just me, but the last sentence in the quote above I found to be particularly interesting.
"That's entirely up to him" is the kind of thing one parent might say to another about a child about to make a foolhardy decision. It reeks of washing one's hands of a decision so that if something bad were to happen fault couldn't be spread.
It sounds like the words of a man who has already made up his mind with what he's doing with the first pick of the draft.
Having spoken with scouts specifically about the Colts and their 35-year old quarterback, the writing has been on the way for months. The Colts recognize the unique talent expected to be available and do not appear likely to be willing to mortgage their future at the game's most important position just to acknowledge what Manning has done for them in the past.
The real question could turn out to be which quarterback the Colts would prefer.
The overwhelming consensus, of course, is that the Colts would take Andrew Luck. As I noted here, however, there is growing sentiment that the higher upside of Robert Griffin III could convince some teams that he's the player who should be taken first.
If running a team needing a quarterback to step in and play immediately, it would seem Luck would be the slam dunk choice. Southern Cal's Matt Barkley, should he also decide to leave school early, is also especially ready for the leap to the NFL due to his experience in a pro-style offense.
If the Colts see enough in Manning's post practice workouts to convince them that he is on schedule to return to his MVP-caliber play, Griffin might sneak up on Luck. He, after all, is expected to need some time to acclimate to the NFL after having earned his Heisman trophy in a spread offense.
But, of course, Polian isn't tipping his hand on which college quarterback he likes best.
That won't come until a press conference scheduled four months from now.
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 16, 2011 12:19 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:48 pm
Fans of the Stanford Cardinal will not only have to endure life without Andrew Luck next season, they'll also be losing junior right guard David DeCastro, considered by many to be the elite interior lineman in the country.
NFLDraftScout.com has learned that DeCastro will leave Stanford after this season and head to the NFL.
All of the Stanford players have been asked to put off dealing with agents until after Stanford meets Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl January 2, but a source tells me that DeCastro "is definitely coming out. It isn't a matter of if, but when."
DeCastro redshirted in 2008 and has since started three consecutive seasons at right guard for the Cardinal, earning honorable mention all-conference accolades in 2009 and first-team honors both years since. The 6-5, 312 pound DeCastro was the only Stanford player to make the AP's First Team All-American team. Andrew Luck was relegated to the second team. It was behind his crushing blocks at both the first and second level that helped Stanford average 207.9 yards per game on the ground this year.
NFL teams hate to spend first round picks on interior linemen but that is precisely the grade I am giving DeCastro. He's higher on ny Big Board rankings than I've ever had a guard at this point in the year. He's also sitting firmly in the middle of my first round mock draft and is rated the No. 10 rated prospect on NFLDraftScout.com's overall player rankings.
DeCastro is joing a rare fraternity of interior linemen leaving early to the NFL. There were no early entrants among interior linemen in the draft last year. There have only been three underclassmen offensive linemen to have been drafted since 2008. Pittsburgh took Maurkice Pouncey out of Florida in 2010. The Chiefs and 49ers tooks Branden Albert and Chilo Richal, respectively, in 2008.
DeCastro and Luck may ultimately be joined by another Cardinal defection as junior left tackle Jonathan Martin is also thought to be likely to leave school early. Martin, along with Southern California's Matt Kalil and Iowa's Reilly Reiff, is considered one of a three-headed monster of junior offensive tackles who each could wind up as top 20 picks come April.
DeCastro and the rest of the No. 4 rated Stanford Cardinal will take on No. 3 Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl January 2.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:14 am
Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil is "set to return" for his senior season according to a source close to the situation.
Kalil, 6-6 and 295 pounds, just finished his second season as the Trojans' starting left tackle. He earned First Team All Pac-12 honors and is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 3 overall prospect in the country. Though his older brother, Ryan, returned for his senior campaign at USC prior to the center being drafted in the second round of the 2007 draft by the Carolina Panthers, most expected Matt to leave early.
A high-ranking NFL scout confirmed that he'd also heard Kalil was "definitely leaning towards returning" and that the decision surprised he and his scouting peers, as well.
"If he does indeed return, it would be a bit surprising. He's the top offensive tackle in the country. The senior class [at offensive tackle] is a weak group. At worst, he'd be looking at a top ten pick. That fact alone would send most guys into the draft."
Kalil's remarkable combination of size and athleticism had kept the Dallas Cowboys' 2011 first round pick Tyron Smith playing on the right side during his career with the Trojans. That didn't keep Jerry Jones and his staff from selecting Smith with the No. 9 overall pick. Smith, incidentally, has performed well this season as the Cowboys' starting right tackle.
Kalil has long been projected to enter the 2012 draft. Chad Reuter and I have each projected him as a potential top five pick in our current first round mock drafts.
Should Kalil return, it could set off of chain reaction pushing other talented USC underclassmen -- including quarterback Matt Barkley -- to shun the NFL and return for their senior seasons. The Trojans' bowl ban ends this year. Considering the talent this team has potentially coming back, a return to national title contention would appear possible.
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.