For years, the Pro Day workout at Southern Cal was considered one of the more important stops for any scout. With only one prospect likely to hear his name called in the first round, however, new head coach Steve Sarkisian is going to have his work cut out for him in rebuilding the Trojans.
Wide receiver Marqise Lee, the team's lone first round candidate, surprised some by electing to stand pat on his 40-yard dash time from the Combine.
It was hoped that Lee, NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 wide receiver and No. 18 overall prospect, would run as the the 6-foot, 192 pounder was clocked at 4.52 seconds in the all-important 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, exhibiting less explosiveness in this drill than he'd shown throughout much of his spectacular career.
This led to speculation that Lee still wasn't fully recovered from the nagging leg injuries which played a significant role in his dropping from 118 receptions for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns during his Biletnikof Award-winning sophomore season to just 57 receptions for 791 yards and four scores in 2013.
Lee did look good during some of the other drills in Indianapolis, posting a 38" vertical, a 10-6" broad jump and a 4.01-second short shuttle that ranked among the top eight (among receivers) tested in Indianapolis this year. For a receiver that entered the year ranked 1A or 1B with Clemson's Sammy Watkins, however, the numbers were disappointing. According to a source on the scene, Lee looked fluid during positional workouts.
Following the workout, Lee was asked by Scott Wolf of Inside USC and the Los Angeles Daily News whether he considered running the 40 yard dash.
"No... I knew I could do better but at the end of the day, you have to understand that film is different than a 40 time," Lee said.
With their most high profile athlete opting not to run, the attention turned to some of USC's second-tier prospects. Unfortunately, it wasn't a particularly athletic demonstration. Full results of the workout can be seen at USC's official athletics website.
Center Marcus Martin, the second-highest rated Trojan on NFLDraftScout.com's board at No. 55 overall, ran twice, coming in at 5.52 and 5.36 in the 40-yard dash. While 40-yard dash times aren't exactly a great barometer for offensive linemen, Martin's times would have ranked slowest among the centers able to work out in Indianapolis.
Tight end Xavier Grimble did himself no favors by clocking between 4.98-5.02 in the 40-yard dash. His lack of ideal explosiveness was also demonstrated in other events, such as the vertical (30.5"), broad jump (9'2") and bench press (16 reps). Grimble, who like Lee and Martin elected to leave early for the draft, had been unable to work out at the Combine due to a calf strain.
One player who may have helped his cause was Combine snub Morgan Breslin, a high-effort pass rusher who exploded onto the scene two years ago as a JUCO transfer, recording a team-best 13 sacks. An injury to his hip which required surgery limited Breslin to "just" 4.5 sacks (in five games) as a senior and he was somehow left off the Combine list.
Breslin, who measured in at 6-1, 240 pounds, projects best as an undersized 4-3 defensive end and potential 3-4 rush linebacker, was clocked at 4.74-4.78 in the 40-yard dash. He also showed some explosiveness with a 35.5" vertical and 26 repetitions of 225 pounds.