Flags went up when Pete Carroll moved back to the NFL to run the show for the Seattle Seahawks. The hammer of the NCAA soon came down harshly on USC after serious violations. There also will be a major drop-off in talent on the field this season, something which will be felt in NFL war rooms next April.
Junior tackle Tyron Smith is our highest rated prospect on the Trojans offense. Smith plays with terrific fundamentals, shows the ability to effectively redirect to linebackers on the second level and seal them from the action. He effectively adjusts to pass rushers from his left tackle spot and knocks them from their angle of attack with good hand punch. He’s a developing player with a nice upside.
Kristofer O’Dowd is a heady center who works well with teammates and effectively quarterbacks the offensive line. O’Dowd blocks with terrific leverage, immediately gets his hands into defenders and shows a tremendous amount of quickness in his game. O’Dowd is really not a guy that moves defenders off the middle of the line and is not a prospect with a great upside.
Early in his USC career Butch Lewis was a prospect we were high on but the offensive lineman watched his game regress last season. Formerly the teams starting tackle, Lewis was relegated to backing up at guard last season. He plays with nice lean, quickly gets off the line into blocks and looks for someone to hit. Lewis shows solid strength at the point but lacks playing balance which hurts his ability to finish blocks. He must quickly revert to the form he showed as a freshman then sophomore to have any chance of getting drafted and our grade is based on the promise he once showed.
Stanley Havili is a favorite of many and a triple threat fullback effective as a lead blocker, ball carrier and pass catcher. He shows good vision in his overall game, creates space for ball carriers and easily adjusts to linebackers on the second level. Havili gives effort but lacks blocking bulk and power.
Allen Bradford is a strong interior ball carrier that runs with an aggressive style and puts his shoulders down into defenders, driving forward for the extra yardage. Bradford is strictly a between the tackles runner and does not possess the speed to turn the corner besides struggling to change direction.
C.J. Gable, the once promising ball carrier, has struggled to regain previous form. He showed himself to be an elusive back with a burst yet rarely saw the ball last season.
Ronald Johnson is a sure handed possession wide out who sells routes, nicely adjusts to make the reception away from his body and uses his frame to shield away opponents. Johnson is a one-speed wide out that lacks the ability to stretch the defense.
On defense, another junior tops our list of draft eligible Trojan prospects, linebacker Chris Galippo. Remaining patient with assignments, Gallipo does a solid job diagnosing and anticipating the action, showing skill in coverage. He’s tough against the run yet lacks bulk and will be swallowed up by blocks. We like Galippo’s future.
Malcolm Smith is another active linebacker we gave a draftable grade. Athletic, Smith is fluid moving in reverse, shows skill in coverage and makes plays in space. He lacks bulk yet may have a home as a back-up weakside linebacker.
We started off by mentioning there’s going to be a huge drop off in talent at USC and they’ll have minimal impact in NFL war rooms next April. Don’t believe us? Consider this; NFL scouting services stamped cornerback Shareece Wright as the highest graded senior on the Trojan roster. Why so strange? Wright has played just two games the prior two seasons. He was academically ineligible in 2009 and started the first two games of the ’08 season before a hairline fracture in his neck sidelined Wright the remainder of the year. Wright was a back-up during his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
USC had fourteen top sixty picks over the last three drafts. They are unlikely to have a single player broach the third round next April.
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