Tag:USC Trojans
Posted on: November 28, 2011 3:33 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:51 pm
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Bowl bans may push USC/Miami youngsters to NFL

With many of the FBS teams finishing up their seasons last weekend, the march to the NFL draft in April is taking a turn onto a new road -- the early pathway to the pros.

Each year there are dozens of underclassmen who petition the NFL Advisory Committee for the grades that will help them determine whether they should leave school early for a chance at NFL riches or return to school for another year.

Generally speaking, most underclassmen wait until after the bowl games to make these requests.

Bowl bans for USC and Miami, however, mean that their underclassmen could be all the more vulnerable to the pressures placed by family, friends and prospective agents. While players all over the country are busy preparing for their final game or anxiously waiting to hear what bowl their team has been invited to play in, the likes of Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil and Lamar Miller (among others) may get convinced that the extra time could give them an advantage in preparation time for the Combine and other workouts.

Typically, once a few prospects begin to declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft, the floodgates open. Usually some of the first names to make it official are players who announce their thoughts immediately following a bowl game.

This year, some of the biggest names potentially available in 2012 could have made their intentions known long before the first bowl game kicks off.

Posted on: November 2, 2011 4:09 pm
 

Phil Simms not alone in calling Luck overrated

Former Super Bowl MVP and CBS' analyst Phil Simms made waves yesterday with his proclamation that Andrew Luck was being "hype[d] a little too much" and that he didn't see "big time NFL throws" from the Stanford redshirt junior quarterback.

By ranking Luck as the top prospect I've seen in 12 years of scouting, obviously I disagree.

Simms isn't the only one who has concerns about Luck, however.

During the Stanford-Southern Cal game I spent about 45 minutes talking to a high level scout who also had reservations about the Stanford quarterback.

The scout began the conversation about Luck by asking my assessment of Luck's arm strength. I told him that I did not believe that arm strength was Luck's greatest asset, but that having scouted Luck in person and off of video I believed him to have plenty of zip on the ball to make every NFL throw. I also pointed out that Luck's anticipation and accuracy -- arguably his two best features -- more than made up for a lack of a howitzer for a right arm.

The scout agreed that Luck's anticipation and accuracy "were what make him special" but used April's No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton as a comparison to drive a point home about how much Luck has been over-hyped thus far.

"I'm not so sure that after scouting each of these guys closely that some scouts wouldn't favor Newton over Luck," the scout said. "Newton is so much more of a physical specimen. He's bigger, stronger, faster and has a gun. Luck, for all of the things he does have, doesn't have an arm like that. I think the perception is that Carolina would have taken Luck in a heart beat over Newton. Maybe they would have. But I think it would be a closer call than most people think based on the hype."

Newton's instant and continued success in the NFL has taken many of us by surprise, so I asked the scout if perhaps this fact wasn't clouding his comments. He chuckled and acknowledged the quality work that the Carolina Panthers (specifically offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) had done in adapting his offense to tailor to Newton's strengths, but also pointed out that "talent is talent and when you've got a lot of it, a little coaching can go a long way."

"The reality is, Luck is a pretty special talent, but he's not Superman. I don't know that anyone could be as good as the hype he's getting right now." 

Posted on: December 15, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 5:18 pm
 

USC Trojans lose OT Smith, DT Casey to NFL

I argued prior to the beginning of the season that USC was less talented than we'd grown accustomed. Now, it seems that Lane Kiffin will have an even tougher time of turning this Trojan team back into a perennial BCS contender as USC's two most talented linemen are heading early to the NFL.

Offensive tackle Tyron Smith and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey , each First Team All Pac-10 picks this season, are heading to the NFL, according to a report last night from Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

Smith, 6-5 and 285 pounds, is the higher rated prospect of the two. Scouts love his upside, as he possesses the prototype athleticism to man the blindside position in the NFL. Of concern, however, is the fact that Smith has struggled to add weight during his career and will likely be asked to make the transition from right tackle (where he's started each game of his career with the Trojans) to the left side in the pros. That fact could push Smith into the middle to late portion of the first round despite the fact that he boasts as much upside as any of the senior offensive tackles.

Listed at 6-1, 305 pounds, Casey doesn't have the frame to fit inside or out for the 3-4, but possesses good strength and quickness to collapse the pocket as a 4-3 under-tackle. He registered 67 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this season and was recognized Sunday as the Trojans' Most Valuable Player. Casey also earned USC's Defensive Lineman of the Year award, the second consecutive year in which he's won the award.

The two-year starter is highly active and could earn a similar grade as former cross-town rival (and similarly built) Brian Price had last year coming out of UCLA. Price, 6-1 and 303 pounds, was the third pick of the second round, going No. 35 overall to the Bucs.

As always, remember that for complete draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.

Posted on: December 6, 2010 1:41 pm
 

USC RB Bradford earns Prospect of the Week

With NCAA sanctions taking away any chance at a bowl game, USC's final game of the season was their rivalry contest Saturday night against UCLA.

Trojans' senior running back Allen Bradford made the most of it, gashing the Bruins on a career-high 29 carries for 212 yards and a touchdown and catching a 47 yard pass for another score. Both of Bradford's scores came in the fourth quarter, proving to be the winning margin in USC's 28-14 victory.

Bradford, 5-11 and 235 pounds, entered the season as one of the more intriguing big backs in the country, but found himself in and out of Lane Kiffin's doghouse this year as the Trojans split carries between he, Marc Tyler and C.J. Gable.

Against the Bruins, Bradford ran like a man who realized this was his last game in a Trojan uniform. He repeatedly ran through would-be tacklers, and showed off the lateral agility and breakaway speed uncommon among backs of his size.

Bradford ran well against a UCLA defense boasting two of the top junior prospects in the country (outside linebacker Akeem Ayers, free safety Rahim Moore), but it was his fourth quarter 73-yard run that sealed the game and my vote as the Prospect of the Week.

Bradford, running out of the I-formation, quickly got to and broke through the line of scrimmage. He made a subtle fake to his left that got Bruins' strong safety Tony Dye to bite, lowered his shoulders (and protected the ball with both hands) as he got through traffic and exploded through the defense. Again, his breakaway speed might be the characteristic that will most impress scouts on this play.

Bradford's inconsistent senior season (and career, for that matter) won't earn him a high draft selection come April. He's demonstrated the natural running and receiving skills throughout his career, however, to warrant middle to late round consideration, especially for an NFL club looking for a bruiser to match up with a speed back.
 
Posted on: November 23, 2010 11:38 am
 

Oregon St DT Paea earns Prospect of the Week

Week Twelve of the college football season saw some spectacular individual performances. Many of them came from offensive players in high profile contests.

Boise State wideout and return specialist Titus Young made his bid to be the No. 1 rated senior at the position with eight receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns in a dominating performance by Boise State over Fresno State.

This week's reigning Prospect of the Week -- Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi - was just as dominant in the Badgers win over Michigan this past weekend as he was during the annihilation of Indiana a week previous.

I reviewed their game film and of more than a dozen other highly touted senior prospects, writing about most of them in either this Weekend Review or Draft Slant , our weekly PDF file for premium subscribers. During the film review for these articles, however, the play of Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea stood out.

Emphatically.

As is often the case with dominant interior defensive linemen not named Ndamukong Suh, Paea's statline don't do him justice. He registered six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble on the night. His forced fumble, the 8th of his career, gives the OSU career title.

Pac-10 officials recognized just how important Paea's performance was to the Beavers "upset" bid at home over USC. For his efforts Paea earned conference Defensive Player of the Week honors.

In reality, Paea (pronounced Pie-uh) deserved more for his role in the Beavers 36-7 trashing of the then No. 20 ranked Trojans. He thoroughly dominated Trojans' left guard Michael Reardon and often center Kris O'Dowd -- NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 rated senior center -- whenever O'Dowd came to double-team (which was often). In fact, at times, the Trojans triple-teamed Paea, sending their backs to chip the 6-1, 312 pound defensive tackle.

Using perhaps the best bull rush in college football, Paea continually drove Reardon into the backfield, virtually eliminating USC's interior running game, himself. At times, he was able to slip off and make the tackle for loss or sack, himself. On most other occasions, his play opened up easy tackle for loss or short gain opportunities for his teammates.

Take the opening play of the second quarter, for instance.

The Trojans were driving, down only 3-0. Paea drives Reardon and O'Dowd deep into the pocket, pushing Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley to hurry his throw. The pass was intercepted by Beaver defensive back Jordan Poyer and returned 65 yards for an Oregon State touchdown.

Paea was also responsible -- though again indirectly -- for the hit that knocked Barkley out of the game with only seconds left in the first half. Again double-teamed off the snap, Paea attempted to loop around to the right side. Rather than gain freedom, the two blockers assigned to him (Reardon, O'Dowd) followed him. There, they and right guard Khaled Holmes focused on Paea, while the Beavers' other starting defensive Kevin Frahm simply rushed upfield to sack Barkley, pinning his ankle under him in the process.

Scouts knew of Paea's brute strength. That facet of his game has been obvious since he transferred in from Snow Junior College two years ago. Paea has made significant gains this season in terms of his mobility and overall awareness on the field.

There are few 6-1, 312 pound defensive tackles drafted in the first round. Paea, however, could be one of them. 
Posted on: October 28, 2010 10:24 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 11:57 pm
 

Biggest game of weekend (for draft) in Seattle

With all six of the FBS undefeated teams on the road and two games pitting Top 20 teams against each other, there is certainly plenty of intrigue in college football for the upcoming Halloween weekend.

In terms of the NFL draft, however, the place to be is Seattle, Washington where the two top quarterback prospects in the country will face off.

According to sources within the league, the expectation is that there will be "at least" 15 NFL scouts attending this game. That total would almost surely double the number of scouts that have attended any college football game in Seattle in quite some time.

Stanford redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck has emerged this season as the clear top passer in the country. Some will argue that Washington's Jake Locker has fallen out of the first round. ESPN's John Clayton has reported that he's spoken to scouts who have dropped him into the second or third round.

That might be true -- but I believe that for however low Locker has dropped early this year, he'll earn back a great deal of that lost stock if he is invited (and accepts) a Senior Bowl invitation, as expected. In that environment, Locker's rare physical tools will stand out.

This isn't a life-long Seattle area resident talking... It is from the experience of covering Senior Bowl practices since 2000.

Having scouted this long, I've learned that many NFL talent evaluators believe (as I do) that one can gauge the talents of most prospects based on film - but not necessarily quarterbacks.

Most scouts believe that to truly gauge a quarterback, one has to see them throw in person. They have to see how the ball comes out of the passer's hand; get a feel for just how much zip is on his fastball; if the quarterback recognizes when to throw with touch; how he interracts with his teammates when the cameras aren't on him.

It is why I saved my final analysis of Sam Bradford (Pro Day) , Tim Tebow (Senior Bowl) , Mark Sanchez (Pro Day) and many others over the years until after I'd seen them in person.

It is also why I won't be scouting the myriad of games I normally do this Saturday, but instead will be evaluating Stanford-UW in person this weekend.

Because to truly judge a quarterback, there is nothing like being there in person.

Posted on: August 27, 2010 1:15 pm
 

Allen Bradford losing reps, may not start opener

Some overrated college football and NFL draft analyst recently listed USC senior running back Allen Bradford among the Pac-10's top ten senior prospects for the 2010 draft.

While Bradford remains a noteworthy NFL prospect, his chances at improving his stock with scouts appear to be dwindling with the apparent news that he's been overtaken by redshirt junior Marc Tyler atop the Trojans' depth chart, at least according to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin wouldn't announce Tyler as the winner of the starting running back position, but did admit he's met with Bradford invididually prior to Tyler earning increased carries in recent practices, according to Arash Markazni of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

"I never put [Bradford] as a No. 1 guy," Kiffin said when asked why Bradford was now receiving less reps, despite entering the year atop the depth chart in USC's preseason media guide. "Maybe other people had him as the No. 1 guy but I said all along the competition was open. I did talk to [Bradford] two days ago because the reps had started to shift a little bit and I wanted him to know that before he came out here so there weren't any surprises. The competition is still open but we're going to give Marc more reps." Even if Tyler wins (and keeps) the starting job, Bradford will remain on the NFL radar. The powerfully built 5-11, 235 pound Bradford has proven to be an effective grinder between the tackles. He earned honorable mention all-conference honors last year with career-highs in rushing yards (668) and rushing touchdowns (8) despite splitting time with speedster Joe McKnight.

As Klein notes in his article, Bradford hasn't had much of an opportunity to impress Kiffin this summer. He's been nursing a sore left knee, which has kept him limited. Furthermore, Bradford's game lies with his physicality. With much of USC's practices held with a "no-tackle policy," Bradford hasn't been able to show off his ability to run through legitimate tackle attempts. 

The no-tackle policy carried over into yesterday's scrimmage. Tyler led the way with five attempts for the Trojans, but only averaged a yard per attempt in doing so. He did, however, score a touchdown (two yards). Bradford, on the other hand, only had two carries, but rushed for 17 yards, according to USC's official blog .

Posted on: September 30, 2009 1:07 pm
 

Stafon Johnson Horror Latest Blow to '10 RB class

The horrific mishap that led to USC senior running back Stafon Johnson undergoing an emergency tracheotomy and reconstructive surgery on his throat fortunately was enough to save the young man's life. Johnson's injury, explained by Dr. Gudata Hinika, the trauma medical director at California Hospital Medical Center, likely would have killed a regular person. Only Johnson's muscular build saved and the quick reactions of the USC weight room staff and the medics at California Hospital Medical Center kept this story from being a tragic one.

"Had that been any one of us, meaning me, we would have not survived," Hinika said. "His neck was so solid, so muscular ... and the discipline that one learns from being athletic also really helped him to calm down and just do what he needed to do. He took instruction very well. All this combination and his physical fitness contributed to his outcome."
Following more than 7 hours of surgery, Johnson has stabilized and has shared in non-verbal communication with family and friends. Though his rehabilitation will keep him from playing in another game for USC, doctors believe that he can have a full recovery, keeping Johnson's dreams of playing in the NFL a realistic option.

For NFL teams needing help at running back, that assessment is a great one, as Johnson had emerged as one of the best senior backs in the country. The season-ending loss of Buffalo's James Starks to a labral tear and Oregon's LaGarratte Blount to suspension for fighting had already weakened the crop, especially for bigger backs.

Don't be surprised if there is a mass exodus of underclassmen backs this year in response to the vacuum.


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