USC: Kevin Thomas

Brown, Williams, Thomas selected; Griffen still waiting

April, 23, 2010
4/23/10
8:23
PM PT
Four Trojans found their way into the NFL on the second day of the draft, although one highly-rated USC prospect has still yet to be taken.

After safety Taylor Mays was picked midway through the second round by the 49ers, offensive tackle Charles Brown went to the Saints with the 64th overall pick. Wide receiver Damian Williams and cornerback Kevin Thomas were each selected in the third round — to the Titans and Colts, respectively.

For more on each player, check out analysis here.

USC defensive end Everson Griffen, projected as a first-rounder in many mock drafts and a consensus top-50 player overall, curiously wasn't chosen among the first 98 selections.

No Trojans selected in first round

April, 22, 2010
4/22/10
11:21
PM PT
The first 32 picks of the 2010 NFL Draft came and went Thursday, and no USC players were picked.

NFL teams passed on the likes of safety Taylor Mays, defensive end Everson Griffen and offensive tackle Charles Brown — all of whom had been projected by some experts to be first-round material. Instead, the Trojans are sitting and waiting for the second round to begin Friday at 3 p.m..

Tweeted outgoing USC receiver Damian Williams, commony projected as a second-rounder: "Not gonna lie pretty upset right now but it's all good. Me and T Mays got 31 reasons to ball this year. Whoever gets us we starving!!! Night."

USC was also held out of the first round in 2007. In that draft, receiver Dwayne Jarrett was the first Trojan picked, at No. 45 by the Panthers. But the consensus this year seemed to be that at least two of the Mays-Griffen-Brown triumvirate would go among the top 32 — and if not two, then at least one.

But NFL teams had other plans. Still, the Trojans have plenty of hope. Brown, Griffen, Mays and Williams are all likely to be selected early in the second round Friday. And running back Joe McKnight, cornerback Kevin Thomas and tight end Anthony McCoy have solid chances to go in the second or third round. Rounds 4-7 — where ex-Trojans like Jeff Byers and Stafon Johnson are likely to be picked — starts up Saturday at 7 a.m.

"I think we're gonna do pretty good," current USC receiver Ronald Johnson said earlier Thursday of the Trojans' collective draft hopes. "We have a lot people that could go first round and a lot of people that could go late first round or early second round."

Underrated defensive backs perform well

March, 31, 2010
3/31/10
7:26
PM PT
Two USC defensive backs are expected to go in the mid-rounds of April's NFL Draft. Both players — corner Kevin Thomas and safety Will Harris — did better than expected in Wednesday's Pro Day festivities.

Thomas ran the day's best 40-yard dash time — a 4.43. He said that time and his performance in defensive back would hopefully help his stock in the eyes of NFL scouts:



Harris, who started a season and a half with the Trojans, wasn't invited to the combine in February. He said he used Pro Day as an opportunity to show NFL teams what he could do, and he came away pleased with his performance:

Pro Day notes

March, 31, 2010
3/31/10
4:27
PM PT
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
3/31/10
7:38
AM PT
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 NFL.com 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 NFL.com 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 NFL.com 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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