Overrated player based on where he was picked: QB Paul McDonald. In all of the comments directed at the picks made for the all-time team, the quarterback spot received a lot of interest, with Rodney Peete and Matt Barkley being mentioned often as players who got overlooked.
McDonald was selected with the No. 11 overall pick in the third round, which appears high when you consider the final quarterback -- Pete Beathard -- fell to the No. 85 spot. But when you look at the finer attributes of McDonald as a quarterback, it’s easy to see why he was picked so high.
McDonald was known as an intelligent game-manager who could do what it took to win a football game. His stats might have paled in comparison to many of the recent quarterbacks in the throwing era -- his two-year totals of 3,913 passing yards and 37 touchdowns would be considered a solid single season by today’s standards. However, McDonald has a national title under his belt and was also named an All-American in 1979. His skills as a leader were critical for those USC teams, even if it often seemed like his best play on a given Saturday was tossing the ball to Charles White. Greg Katz knew he needed a savvy field general to lead a team coached by John McKay and he didn’t mind spending a high draft pick to get one in McDonald.
Sleeper pick: By definition of this draft, the best sleeper pick was made by Johnny Curren when he drafted Reggie Bush in the 25th and final round.
It’s not often that you can wait that long in a draft to get a player who put up stats like Bush but that’s exactly the spot Curren found himself in when three of the first six picks were spent on tailbacks by the other WeAreSC staffers. You can’t argue any of those picks, as Charles White, Marcus Allen and O.J. Simpson all have Heismans of their own, but the fact that the other three teams had their tailback spots filled early meant that Curren didn’t need to spend a high pick on that position. He smartly chose to wait until the end to pick a player that many think was the most explosive in college football history.
5 top non-drafted
1) Mike Garrett: It’s a pretty tough draft when winning a Heisman trophy doesn’t get you picked. Garrett was the original I-formation tailback for the Trojans and the first Heisman winner for the school. He later served almost two decades at the university as athletic director, a tenure that included the highs of the Pete Carroll era and the lows of crippling NCAA sanctions. For this draft, however, the only thing that mattered was on-field production, and Garrett certainly had enough of it to warrant being selected.
2) Anthony Davis: The guess here is that Notre Dame fans are surprised that Davis didn’t make the list. Davis scored 11 touchdowns in his career against the Irish -- including six in one game -- to earn the moniker “The Notre Dame killer”. Like
Garrett, A.D. found himself on the outside looking in because only four tailbacks could be selected and USC history overflows at that spot.
3) Matt Barkley: My what a difference a year can make. When Barkley decided to come back for his senior season there was talk that he could go down as the greatest Trojan ever. Now, he wasn’t even picked as one of four quarterbacks in this draft.
History is fickle at USC. Barkley’s individual accomplishments speak for themselves and his four-year body of work demands respect. There is also no doubt that he will go down as one of the finest off-the-field representatives the program has ever seen. But of the four quarterbacks that were picked in this draft, two have Heisman trophies and the other two both have national titles. That’s the bar at USC when comparing great careers, the kind of measurements that separate those at the top.
4) Robert Woods: There’s really no explanation for this one. With each of the four teams drafting two receivers, there is no way you can say that Woods isn’t one of the eight best receivers in USC history. The fact that he sits atop the career reception list should be a pretty good testament to that fact. By the way, he set that mark in three years, two of which were played on a bad ankle and one of which was played as a second option to a Biletnikoff Award winner.
5) Brian Kelly: There are a lot of players who could have filled this fifth spot -- Rodney Peete, Ron Mix, Frank Gifford, the list could go on and on. We’re choosing to put Kelly in the spot in large part because the WeAreSC staffers all thought cornerback was a particularly tough spot to fill.
If that was the case, how does Kelly not get picked? He was a four-year starter in the secondary for the Trojans and saw most of his success as a corner. He was a second-round draft choice in the NFL by Tampa Bay and won a Super Bowl with the Bucs. With a resume like that, there should have been a spot for him on one of the all-time USC teams.
Of course, there are also those who will good-naturedly remind Kelly of his dropped interception late in the game against Florida State in 1997. It was a missed opportunity play, to be sure, but it doesn’t erase the fact that Kelly was a terrific man coverage corner and definitely worthy of the recognition.