- Garry Paskwietz, Publisher, WeAreSC.com
It was a solid draft weekend for the USC program with six former Trojans selected in the NFL draft and another four signed as free agents.
Leonard Williams led the way as an early first-round selection when he landed with the New York Jets as the sixth overall pick. Williams was considered by many to be the best overall prospect in the draft so the fact that the Jets were able to get him at that spot was being called by some the best “value” pick of the draft. It’s actually a good setting for Williams with a strong existing defensive line, one where he won’t be expected to come in and be a savior right away, and the Big Apple will soon learn to love the Big Cat.
The next selection in the first round came as somewhat of a surprise although maybe it shouldn’t have been after so much pre-draft buzz surrounding Nelson Agholor. Agholor was picked by the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 20 overall) where he will play for a coach in Chip Kelly who has game planned for him before. With the ability to line up in multiple spots and make big plays with the ball in his hands, it stands to reason that Nelson should be a nice fit with what Kelly likes to do on offense.
After those two first-round picks, which pushed the Trojans' total of all-time first-round selections to a nation-leading 79, there was a little wait before Josh Shaw became the next USC player to be picked, by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round. The story of his off-field suspension dominated any discussion about Shaw and it most certainly hurt his stock from where he would have been projected to get drafted at this point last year. But this also marks a turning of the page for that situation as he has the opportunity to begin a new chapter and focus on playing football, something he actually does quite well.
Buck Allen followed Shaw five picks later in the fourth round as the Baltimore Ravens chose the versatile running back. The Ravens got a player who is going to show up every day ready to work and that should mix well with their style of play. It was a memorable week for Buck. First he completed the last school assignment required for his USC degree and then he heard his name called during the draft. Not bad for a young man who had been delayed entry as a freshman for academic reasons and struggled early in his career to get playing time.
The Cleveland Browns ended up finishing things off as far as Trojans were concerned by taking Randall Telfer in the sixth round and Hayes Pullard in the seventh. These two high-character guys fell in the draft process for different reasons, but it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see both make the team. Telfer battled a series of injuries throughout his career that never allowed his production to completely match his talent and measurables. Pullard, on the other hand, probably didn’t blow anybody away with his testing numbers but his production as a four-year starter tells you what you need to know about him as a football player.
Among the four free agent signings, J.R. Tavai was probably the biggest surprise to not get drafted and he ended up with the Tennessee Titans. George Farmer’s decision to leave early was met with a lot of raised eyebrows, but he will get his shot with the Dallas Cowboys. Gerald Bowman signed with Baltimore and Aundrey Walker with the Miami Dolphins.
Six former Trojans were chosen in the NFL draft, headlined by Leonard Williams.