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2013 NFL Draft: USC loses CB Nickell Robey to NFL

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/

As it turns out, USC cornerback Nickell Robey is going into the 2013 NFL Draft after all.

The three-year starter had unofficially announced his intentions nearly two weeks ago on Facebook but after missing a critical tackle in the open field that directly led to a touchdown in USC's loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, he appeared to be waffling on his decision.

Robey erased any confusion Sunday night about his future plans, confirming to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times that he'd already informed USC coach Lane Kiffin of his decision.

“He respected my decision,” Robey said. “It's a business decision, like any other important decision I've made my whole life.

“It's the best thing for my family and for me.”

Robey, who earned second-team All Pac-12 honors as a junior despite intercepting just one pass in 2012, has developed a reputation as a feisty and extremely athletic cover corner. He started every game for the Trojans over the past three seasons after signing with the team as a highly-regarded prep prospect out of Frostproof, Fla. He earned honorable-mention all-conference honors as a true freshman in large part due to his four interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. Robey had two more interceptions as a sophomore, including one off Stanford's Andrew Luck.

Robey's quickness, ball skills, tenacity and success against high-caliber competition are certainly intriguing but he could be waiting later on draft weekend than expected.

In an era in which football teams frequently exaggerate the size of their prospects, Robey is officially listed by USC at 5-foot-8, 165 pounds. He's much tougher than his size would seem to indicate and has averaged nearly 55 tackles a season over his career, but for most teams his small stature makes him strictly a nickel cornerback and limits his value.

As such, Robey was given a "day three" or Rounds 4-7 projection from the NFL Advisory Committee, according to several reports.

Robey's height is an undeniable factor that will limit his draft grade, but he could see a boost over the coming months once he is able to show off his athleticism. An accomplished sprinter and long jumper on the USC track team, Robey could light up the combine.

The junior joins a record-breaking list of underclassmen heading into the 2013 NFL Draft and is ranked as's No. 7 cornerback of the 2014 draft class.

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