With Senior Bowl festivities coming to an end it is time to reevaluate some of the USC Trojans, who are eligible to enter the 2010 NFL Draft. Last year’s USC draft class proved to be stocked full of talent, especially at the linebacker position. This year’s class has a number of talented players as well. Be sure to check out my original USC’s top ten NFL Draft prospects. Below are my updated projections of where some of the players might go:
Charles Brown (OT, 6-6, 295) – Brown moves up to the top spot, surpassing Taylor Mays as USC’s No.1 pro prospect. Brown did not compete in Senior Bowl events this past week due to a calf strain. Brown’s ascension into the top spot has more to do with Mays’ stock dropping a bit this past week. Offensive tackles are a valued commodity in the NFL and I believe Brown has a great chance to be the second OT off the board, behind Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung.
2009 Morris Trophy winner, Brown emerged as an excellent blind-side blocker. Possessing prototypical size at tackle, the former tight end has great mobility and athleticism for the position. His run-blocking needs more development, but he is ready to deliver premium quarterback protection. Projection: Middle 1st Round
Taylor Mays (S, 6-3, 230) – Mays took some lumps from critics due to poor mechanics during Senior Bowl workouts. He redeemed himself a little bit in the Senior Bowl game, after intercepting a Sean Canfield pass and returning it 18 yards, but the damage to Mays’ stock has been done. That being said, all it takes is one team to take in interest to get a player off the board. My hunch is that Pete Carroll picks up his former USC safety with the No. 14 pick. NFL Draft Examiner, Josh Lobdell, thinks he will go at No. 13 to the 49ers.
Incredible size and speed for a safety, high-impact player. Mays may have made a mistake by returning for his senior season; however, he is a first-round lock and most likely the first Trojan off the board in the 2010 draft. Projection: Middle-late 1st Round
*Everson Griffen (DE, 6-3, 235) – As NFL teams continue to evaluate available talent, it is becoming clear that Everson Griffen will be a highly sought after defensive end in the draft. Initially I looked at Griffen as a 2nd-3rd round pick, but with many teams putting a premium on young able pass-rushers, Griffen could very well go in the first round.
Griffen was a force at defensive end for the Trojans this past year, disrupting the opposing offense and getting to the quarterback. Durability is a main concern with Griffen as he has had some nagging injury problems on occasion. He is probably more suited to be a pass-rushing specialist in the NFL, but luckily for Griffen pass-rushing is always in high demand. Projection: Late 1st-early 2nd Round
- *Damian Williams (WR, 6-1, 190) – Williams was one of the Pac-10’s top receivers and punt return men this past season, but was considered a middle-of-the-pack receiving prospect. 12 catches and 189 yards receiving in the Emerald Bowl later, Williams is moving up the boards. While he does not possess elite speed, Williams is deceptively quick and a great route runner. Projection: Middle 2nd Round
- *Joe McKnight (RB, 6-0, 200) – McKnight has had an interesting career at USC. The top rated tailback coming out of high school in 2007, McKnight possesses elite speed but is somewhat undersized to be an every down back. The junior tailback has also had fumble problems and injury issues during his career with the Trojans. Many have labeled McKnight as a poor man’s Reggie Bush. I compare McKnight with Felix Jones of the Dallas Cowboys in that, if he can stay on the field and be used in the right situation, he can be a very good NFL player. Projection: Late 2nd – 3rd Round
Anthony McCoy (TE, 6-5, 255) – McCoy helped himself out tremendously at the Senior Bowl, showing off his speed and pass-catching capabilities in practice. While he did not do much in the game itself, McCoy did enough during the week of practices to grab the attention of more than a few teams.
McCoy’s senior season proved to be a coming out party for the enigmatic tight end. There were times were we saw a player capable of making the big catch while barreling over defenders, and then there were the times where we saw a player, who was incapable of holding onto the football. At 6’5” 250 lb, McCoy will probably be more of a blocking tight end than a receiving threat, but he does have good hands and the ability to make plays. Projection: 3rd Round
Jeff Byers (C-OL, 6-4, 285) – Besides McCoy, no USC player at the Senior Bowl helped themselves more than Byers. Byers showed off the ability to play multiple positions at the Senior Bowl, including center. In what has been described as a weak draft in terms of the center position, Byers did well to show off the versatility and skill we all became accustomed to during his time at USC.
By many accounts Byers, the sixth-year senior, is already somewhat of a veteran. He has good feet, a great work ethic and is incredibly intelligent. Injuries have been the downfall of Byers collegiate career with the Trojans but, if he can stay healthy, he is a solid, if not good lineman, who can play multiple positions, including center. In many ways Byers reminds me of former Cal Bears’ center Jeremy Newberry. Projection: Middle-late 3rd Round
- Will Harris (S, 6-1, 200) – Harris started opposite Taylor Mays this year and had a pretty solid season for the Trojans. He is a bit of a tweener at the safety position, but Harris has shown a knack for being in the right place at the right time like in the Arizona State game this past season. Projection: 6th Round
- Kevin Thomas (CB, 6-1, 185) – Thomas started every game at cornerback for USC this past year and did a solid job. Not exactly a flashy, shutdown corner, Thomas reminds me of former Trojan Cary Harris, a solid player with good size for the position. Projection: Late 6th-7th Round
- Stafon Johnson (RB, 5-11, 210) – The simple fact that Johnson competed in the Senior Bowl is amazing in itself, but he was not just making the rounds with NFL scouts, he was competing with everyone. It was noted more than a couple times that Johnson surprised scouts with his speed and athleticism on the field. In his first game back since that horrifying accident, Johnson rushed four times for 3 yards in the Senior Bowl. If Johnson can continue his hard work and have a good showing at the combine, he may very well find himself fielding a call come draft day. Projection: 7th Round
Other notables: Averell Spicer (DT, 6-2, 295), Josh Pinkard (S, 6-2, 210), Luthur Brown (LB, 6-2, 235), Garrett Green (QB-WR, 6-2, 210), Nick Howell (OL, 6-5, 300), Alex Parsons (OL, 6-4, 300)
For more information and draft news, check out NFL Draft Examiner, Josh Lobdell.
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