Tag:USC
Posted on: April 23, 2010 11:38 am
 

Red-flagged medicals led to Kindle, Brown's slips

While Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and USC safety Taylor Mays slipping out of the first round will generate much more attention, the two players I was more surprised to see slip out are receiving considerably less fanfare.

Texas pass rusher Sergio Kindle was being graded by some clubs as the best 3-4 rush linebacker in this class. I've spoken to teams who operate out of a 4-3 alignment that were convinced he could hold up as a defensive end in their scheme, as well, and had given him a first round grade.

Similarly, USC left tackle Charles Brown had been rising up draft boards. Brown had turned down the opportunity to play in the Senior Bowl due in part to the assurances he'd been receiving from teams that he was already a first round lock. The former tight end has the footwork that teams want in a blindside pass protector and had gained considerable strength and tenacity as a senior, his second season as the Trojan's left tackle after taking over for former All-American and first round pick, Sam Baker.

So what gives?

I'm told some teams had red-flagged each player for previous injuries.

Kindle has had multiple knee injuries in the past, drawing an equivalent of a "D" (on a typical A-F) scale grade for at least one team. It also didn't help that teams were concerned about off-field decision-making with Kindle, as he was arrested for a DUI in 2007 and ran his car into a Austin, Texas apartment while text messaging in 2009.

Brown missed no games over his two starting seasons with the Trojans, but his back was red-flagged by some clubs.

Sources were "a little bit" surprised to see both slip out of the first and acknowledged that each "should go quick" on Friday.


Posted on: April 19, 2010 1:47 pm
 

Failed drug test could knock McCoy out of draft

According to multiple reports, including this one by Fox's Jay Glazer and Alex Marvez, USC tight end Anthony McCoy and Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer each failed drug tests administered at the Combine.

Dwyer was found to have amphetamines in his system, something that may not have a negative impact on his draft stock due to the fact that many teams knew about his prescription for a pre-existing condition. Furthermore, he has not had any previous off-field problems at Georgia Tech.

The news is much darker, however, for McCoy, who tested positive for marijuana.

McCoy is considered one of the better all-around tight ends in the 2010 class. While he lacks the speed associated with today's hybrid receiving specialists, he's proven to be an effective short to intermediate yardage target and is perhaps this year's best blocker at the position.

McCoy, however, has struggled with discipline throughout his career at USC. He was suspended due to academic violations on multiple occasions, including twice his senior year. McCoy was suspended from the team before the season began and then again for the Emerald Bowl, what would have been his final game in a USC uniform.

On their own, McCoy's academic struggles wouldn't be enough to do more than raise a red flag for most teams. The failed drug test, however, when put in the context of his other issues, will certainly be enough to take him off many teams' boards... enough in fact that some scouts feel he could slip out of the draft entirely. 
Posted on: April 13, 2010 10:51 pm
 

WR Mike Williams impressive in Seattle debut

Former USC star and first round bust Mike Williams looked fit and comfortable at wide receiver in the Pete Carroll's debut practice as the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Williams was one of 17 tryout players that Carroll and general manager John Schneider brought in for the three-day mini-camp. Other notables included another famous washout receiver, Reggie Williams (no relation), formerly of the Washington Huskies and Jacksonville Jaguars, wide receiver/return specialist Kevin Robinson and veteran guard Terrance Metcalf.

Though pre-draft mini-camps rarely provide much new information helpful in draft prognostication, I have to admit I was impressed in watching Williams' strong performance today.

While it wouldn't be accurate to describe his speed off the line as explosive, the 6-4, 235 pound Williams was faster off the line than expected and showcased the strong, reliable hands that had characterized his brilliant collegiate career. Williams caught every pass I saw thrown to him (25-30 passes total), routinely snatching passes out of the air. He showed good body control in reaching low, behind and high to snag poor throws.  He also showed some vision and acceleration after the catch, weaving through the defense. Furthermore, he paid attention to his footwork as a route-runner, taking advice from veteran T.J. Houshmandzadeh, at times.

Williams was the No. 10 overall pick of the 2005 draft by the Detroit Lions. He struggled mightily acclimating to the NFL while in Detroit and fizzled quickly in Oakland and  Tennessee, as well. He saw the most time as a rookie for the Lions, catching 29 passes for 350 yards and one TD in 2005. Since, for three teams, he's only caught a combined 15 passes for 189 yards and 1 TD.

Williams is a long, long way from making the team. He'll need to be impressive this week just to be invited to training camp. It was, however, an impressive start to what could result in at least some redemption.

Posted on: March 31, 2010 7:15 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 7:21 pm
 

USC Pro Day results filtering in

Unlike in years past where the Trojans have featured several elite prospects, the USC Pro Day today has generated surprising little buzz among scouts I've spoken with.

Some of this is the fact that the most highly touted player from USC -- safety Taylor Mays -- lit up the Combine with his blazing times in the 40-yard dash and wasn't expected to do the full workout in LA today. As expected, he did not run. He did go through defensive back drills, however, and, according to scouts in attendance, struggled a bit in his transition. This is no surprise to anyone who has watched him in person. We mentioned as much about Mays on several occasions, including at the Senior Bowl.

It didn't help that today's workout was in drizzly, cold conditions. There were, however, several noteworthy performances.

One athlete that did help himself with another strong performance I'm told is pass rusher Everson Griffen. Not only did Griffen get timed at 4.61 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he demonstrated an explosive burst off the snap in defensive line drills and good fluidity in linebacker drills.

Cornerback Kevin Thomas continues to move up draft rankings with another strong performance. He was timed in the early to mid 4.4s and looked very good in positional drills. Thomas won't have much time to rest before working out again, as he's scheduled a personal workout with Cleveland scouts for Thursday.

Versatile offensive lineman Alex Parsons helped his cause by shaving nearly three-tenths of a second off his Combine time in the 40-yard dash. Parsons had been clocked at 5.16 seconds in the event in Indianapolis, but scouts had him in the early 4.9s Wednesday.

Wide receiver Damian Williams did not run the 40-yard dash in LA, which was a bit of a surprise as scouts thought he'd might want to try to better the 4.55 time he recorded in Indianapolis. He did show off his quick feet and balance as a route-runner. I've said it before... I see Damian Williams as a poor man's Greg Jennings and feel that his sure route-running and hands make him one of the more pro-ready receivers of the 2010 draft.

Considering that left tackle Charles Brown was one of the few Trojans who did not do the full workout at the Combine, his Pro Day performance was more important. Unfortunately for Brown, he suffered a pulled hamstring running the 40-yard dash and was unable to participate in the position drills. He also wasn't able to match the 21 repetitions of 225 pounds he posted at the Combine, lifting the bar 20 times today.

Like Brown, running back Joe McKnight was unable to fully compete Wednesday due to injury. McKnight told scouts that he's battling a toe injury. He had been timed at 4.45 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine.

Posted on: March 2, 2010 1:05 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2010 1:13 pm
 

Mays, as expected, wows in workouts

Former USC head coach Pete Carroll used to tell everyone who would listen that Taylor Mays was going to stun people with just how athletic he'd prove to be in workouts. With all of the talk about how Mays struggled in 2009 and the ridicule he took at the Senior Bowl, his stock has been sliding.

However, after posting one of the more impressive Combine performances in recent memory -- an unofficial 4.24 second 40-yard dash and 41" vertical -- Mays is certainly proving to be every bit the athlete he's been hyped.

Mays' preliminary time in the 40-yard dash would tie Tennessee running back Chris Johnson's time in 2008 as the fastest since the NFL began tracking "official" results in 2000. Again, however, the preliminary times being provided by The NFL Network have consistently been faster than the times provided later as official on NFL.com. (Mays' time was later changed to 4.43)

Mays' speed was the fastest recorded by any safety at the 2010 Combine.

As impressive as Mays' athleticism is in workouts, it is important to remember the game film. Just as I mentioned with the recent blog regarding Florida cornerback Joe Haden's surprisingly slow 40-yard dash time, good tape beats good workouts every time.



Posted on: November 9, 2009 3:06 pm
 

Second chance for Blount... Don't blow it, kid

Proving just how out of whack the NCAA can be in their priorities, Oregon running back LaGarrette Blount has been reinstated to the program and is expected to see his first game-action since his well-documented post-game meltdown againt Boise State 

(Meanwhile, former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, who dined with Deion Sanders, and then lied about it to the NCAA, had his final suspension appeal denied and has unofficially declared himself eligible for the 2010 NFL Draft.)

Following Oregon's loss to Boise State, Blount infamously took a cheap shot at the Broncos' defensive end Byron Hout and had to be restrained by teammates, coaches and security on his way off the field. At times, he appeared to go after his own teammates, coaches and fans.

Blount was suspended for the season by head coach Chip Kelly a day later. Kelly said at the time that, "the suspension would remain in effect through any bowl games the Ducks may play in.''

Less than a month after Blount's September 3rd meltdown, Chip Kelly outlined a way in which the talented, but troubled back could return to the field for the Ducks. If Blount were to maintain certain academic and behavioral standards, there was a "potential opportunity" for Blount to be reinstated.

Prior the season, I listed Blount as one of six senior prospects capable of moving from a relative unknown all the way to the first round. The 6-1, 240 pound back broke school records and led the Pac-10 with 17 rushing touchdowns despite operating behind starter Jeremiah Johnson. His size and bullish running style had earned comparisons to the Giants' Brandon Jacobs. Assuming he stays out of trouble (and opponents will surely test him), Blount has the physical talent to recoup some of his draft prospects.

Blount returns for Pac-10 leading Oregon this weekend against Arizona State, who is coming off of a loss at home to USC. Though the scoreboard said differently, the Sun Devils were more impressive Saturday night than the Trojans, especially on the defensive side of the ball.




Posted on: October 3, 2009 10:39 pm
 

Oklahoma OT Williams among Slant considerations

As part of NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF, Draft Slant, I break down one player of the week, a Diamond in the Rough, and 8 other NFL prospects from the weekend's televised action.

One of the more enjoyable decisions I get to make as part of writing the ten player breakdowns is to determine just which senior prospect deserves Player of the Week honors.

The players I've highlighted thus far this season have been DTs Ndamokung Suh (Nebraska) and Arthur Jones (Syracuse), FS Taylor Mays (USC), ILB Brandon Spikes (Florida) and WR Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati).

I've recorded over a dozen games this weekend and have a decision ahead of me, as Oklahoma OT Trent Williams, LSU WR Brandon LaFell, Florida State CB Patrick Robinson, Boston College OC Matt Tennant, and South Florida DE George Selvie are among the prospects I'll be considering.

Thus far, Williams' size, athleticism and upper body strength have been impressive. He's a bit heavier around the middle than scouts would like for a traditional left tackle. He's been susceptible to counter-moves inside by Miami's quicker defensive linemen -- the same struggles that BYU took advantage of in Week One to pressure (and ultimately knock out) Sam Bradford...


Posted on: August 31, 2009 12:55 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2009 12:55 pm
 

Rookie Review -- Mark Sanchez

Mark Sanchez's rapid and surprising ascension to the fifth pick overall of the 2009 draft was due in large part to his ability to impress when the lights were brightest. He enjoyed a spectacular game (28 of 35 for 413 yards, 4 TDs and zero INTs) against Penn State to dominate the Rose Bowl. I wasn't overly impressed with Sanchez's Combine workout, but was also on hand for his second workout for scouts at USC's Pro Day and his performance there was as good as any quarterback's I've ever seen -- prospect or veteran. Sanchez's charisma and surprising understanding of the x and o's, considering his relative lack of starting experience, only excited scouts that much more down the stretch. The Jets were intrigued enough to essentially place the franchise's immediate future in his hands, unloading three veterans and two draft picks to move from 17th to 5th to get him. Solid performances throughout camp and in the first two preseason games led head coach Rex Ryan to name Sanchez as the Jets' starter over veterans Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge. As has been Sanchez's forte', with all of the eyes of Gotham and many others throughout the country, he was steady and even brilliant, at times, against an aggressive New York Giants' defense. Sanchez finished 13 of 20 for 149 yards and an impressive 31 yard touchdown pass to Chansi Stuckey amid great pressure. He led the Jets to four scoring drives against the largely first-team Giants defense.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets QB, #6 - - Good footwork to gain depth, while keeping his eyes downfield. Fooled, at times, by surprise blitzes, but effectively checked down to secondary options and threw the ball away when necessary. Natural poise in the pocket. Will step up and take a hit to complete the pass. Good zip for short and intermediate targets. Leads the receiver well on deeper passes, consistently placing the ball where his receiver can catch it cleanly and get upfield for extra yardage. Underrated mobility. Escaped the pocket several times, including on his signature play of the night. Escaped the rush from three oncoming Giants, located Stuckey at approximately the twelve yard-line and fired a pass to him just as Osi Umenyiora knocked him back. The throw required a good deal of arm strength, since Sanchez's was unable to step into the throw due to the pressure and didn't have the benefit of a great deal of follow-through with Umenyiora bearing down on him.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com