USC: Alex Parsons

Three Trojans selected Saturday

April, 24, 2010
Three USC players rounded out the Trojans' seven-man draft class Saturday.

Defensive end Everson Griffen came off the board first, as the second pick in the fourth round to the Minnesota Vikings, and the New York Jets soon selected running back Joe McKnight after trading up in the fourth round. Former USC coach Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks selected tight end Anthony McCoy in the sixth round.

Griffen enters into an interesting situation in Minnesota, where he'll be able to learn behind one of the game's best defensive ends in Jared Allen. Former USC defensive end Kenechi Udeze was a first-round pick of the Vikings in 2003. McKnight will have a tougher time cracking the rotation in New York, where the Jets already have running backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. The Seahawks already have John Carlson and Chris Baker at tight end.

Undrafted Trojans included running back Stafon Johnson, offensive lineman Jeff Byers and Alex Parsons, defensive tackle Averell Spicer and defensive backs Will Harris and Josh Pinkard. After the draft, Johnson signed with the Titans; Byers, Harris and Pinkard reportedly signed with Carroll and the Seahawks and Parsons signed with the Raiders. Spicer is still unsigned.

Some final statistics on the draft: USC didn't have a player selected in the first round for the second time in the last four years, UCLA had a player selected (defensive tackle Brian Price) before USC for the first time since 2002, and the seven Trojans selected were USC's fewest since 2007, when five ex-Trojans were picked.

More analysis here.

Pro Day notes

March, 31, 2010
We'll have video interviews from a number of Trojans who participated in Wednesday's Pro Day soon, but here are a few highlights to carry you through the wait:
  • The fastest Trojan was cornerback Kevin Thomas, who registered an official 4.43 time in the 40-yard dash. Other impressive times came from defensive end Everson Griffen (4.59, significantly better than his 4.66 at the NFL Combine) and offensive lineman Alex Parsons (4.90, would have been the third-best time for a lineman at the combine). Safety Taylor Mays didn't run the 40.
  • Mays did perform favorably in individual workouts, though, making several plays in defensive back drills. His ball skills have been questioned, and he admitted that in interviews with the media afterward. He also said — to questions that he may isolate himself as a player and not be "coachable" at the next level — that he was always receptive to coaching at USC.
  • Impressive strength performances: 38 reps of 225 pounds from offensive lineman Nick Howell, 35 from safety Will Harris and 32 from defensive tackle Averell Spicer, who looked particularly good.
  • Justin Hart and Adam Goodman also did timed drills and individual workouts. Other participants who didn't play for USC last year included Hershel Dennis, Omar Nazel, Ryan Powdrell, and Michael Coleman. Dennis also appeared at Pro Day last year. He ran a 4.65 40 today.
  • Running back Joe McKnight struggled in both the short and long shuttles, tripping up twice on the latter version. He said his camp decided he had no need to run the 40 this time after recording a 4.47 at the combine. Receiver Damian Williams didn't participate in the short shuttle but impressed scouts in attendance with his long shuttle performance.
  • Speaking of scouts, there were significantly less NFL crowding Cromwell Field this year as compared to previous years. The likely reason? Texas, boasting prospects like Colt McCoy and Sergio Kindle, held its Pro Day today as well. The only head coach spotted was Carolina's John Fox, who was also reportedly at UCLA's Pro Day on Tuesday.
  • Harris wasn't invited to the combine. He said he took it as a slight and came into Pro Day with a chip on his shoulder. He ran a 4.59 40 and impressed in other workouts. "I'm very happy with my performance," he said.
  • Offensive lineman Charles Brownhurt his hamstring on his second 40-yard dash attempt and didn't take part in anything else. His official 40 time was a 5.25; Howell, a reserve on the line in 2009, ran a 5.07. His father, former USC great Pat Howell, was in attendance. Offensive guard Jeff Byers ran a 5.09 and looked decent.
  • In a stark contrast from last year, when former coach Pete Carroll was all over the field motivating players and talking to NFL personnel, new head coach Lane Kiffin was nowhere to be seen.

Pro Day preview

March, 31, 2010
We'll have full reports later on in the day, but in the meantime, here's what to watch for in today's USC Pro Day, which is scheduled to start at around 11 a.m. on Cromwell Field — rain or shine:
  • Thirteen Trojans from last year's squad with NFL Draft hopes will participate. If past years are any indication, we'll also see a number of former players come out of the woodwork to appear in minor roles. Last March, former tight end Dominique Byrd appeared at Pro Day and caught passes from Mark Sanchez in workouts and signed with the Arizona Cardinals two months later. As for 2009 Trojans, well:
  • Safeties Taylor Mays and Will Harris will gather a lot of interest — for different reasons. Mays was a polarizing figure at the NFL Combine last month with his 40-yard dash time and impressive performances in the bench press, vertical jump and broad jump, but somewhat disappointing showing in individual workouts. His scouting report reads: "He can be inconsistent with his angles and technique but relies on his great athleticism to recover and make the play." A good performance in safety-specific workouts would help him. Mays said Tuesday he would not run the 40 at today's event. Harris started all of last season and some of 2008 but didn't get an invitation to the combine. He could impress scouts in a workout setting.
  • Offensive linemen Charles Brown, Jeff Byers, Nick Howell and Alex Parsons will all work out. Brown has a reasonable shot at going in the first round of the NFL Draft, but is perceived by some as being somewhat soft. He could help himself by displaying a mean streak in workouts and in the weight room today. Any boosts in athleticism and/or agility Byers shows will benefit his reputation as a slower, older prospect. Parsons didn't shine in any workout areas at the combine. If he could show excellence in any specific activity or workout, it would help his draft prospects significantly. Howell was not invited to the Senior Bowl or East-West Shrine Game but did play in the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game. He will need a marquee performance to get drafted in April.
  • Cornerbacks Josh Pinkard and Kevin Thomas face similar questions. Pinkard has great size but likely needs a sub 4.6 40-yard dash time to be thought of as a corner at the next level rather than a safety. At 6-foot and 192 pounds, Thomas has fine size but would do well to display improved footwork in workouts.
  • Receiver Damian Williams has nothing to prove when it comes to route-running — scouts know him as a premier receiver in that aspect. Where he could help himself out would be in the 40. At just 197 pounds, Williams could go a long way toward soothing scouts' thoughts that he is a little too slow for his small frame to succeed in the NFL if he were to run under 4.50 in the 40-yard dash.
  • Running backs Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson are in different spots. Johnson is fully recovered from the tragic throat injury that derailed his 2009 season and performed decently at the combine. His size and speed combination is projectable to the next level, but right now he stands as a mid-round pick. McKnight ran a 4.47 at the combine, so the speed is there. He put up solid numbers receiving in his time at USC, and will likely display that pass-catching ability today, which could entice scouts.
  • The story with tight end Anthony McCoy is that he will always put up great numbers and measurables — but not great production. He had just 46 catches in his four-year USC career. Reads his scouting report: "McCoy is a good looking tight end that does not quite play up to his numbers." His initial quickness on routes is also a question mark.
  • Defensive end Everson Griffen doesn't have much to prove. He's a known workout warrior; what scouts worry about is his game film. While his scouting report terms him "not an impact player" as a pass rusher, he needs to show today that he is in fact just that as a defensive end. If he does so, a first-round selection could be in his future.



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