USC: NFL draft

Kiper eyeballing Pac-12 defenders

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
7:00
PM PT
It will come as no surprise that Mel Kiper Jr. sees two of the five best senior QBs and three of the six best underclass QBs coming from the Pac-12 Insider.

But who would have thought that three of the 11 best defensive tackles Insider would come from the Pac-12, while none came from the D-line rich SEC?

USC's Leonard Williams, a junior, is a likely top-10 pick next spring, and he also is a candidate for top pick overall. But Kiper also really likes Williams' buddy at UCLA, Ellis McCarthy.
Really emerged in 2013 as his first-team reps arrived. McCarthy was a big-time recruit, but he had to learn about leverage and keeping blockers occupied, not just looking to shed them immediately and make plays in the backfield. He has a powerful, 6-4, 330-pound frame and could emerge as a likely first-rounder.

The third Pac-12 DT is Washington senior Danny Shelton.

Kiper also likes Pac-12 cornerbacks Insider. He rates Oregon's Ifo Ekpre-Olomu as the No. 1 senior, USC's Josh Shaw as No. 2 and Oregon State's Steven Nelson as No. 3.

Among the underclass CBs, Kiper ranks Washington's Marcus Peters No. 2 and Stanford's Alex Carter as "5A."

On the defensive downside, Kiper doesn't including any Pac-12 defensive ends on his list Insider, which bodes well for those QBs.

On offense, Kiper likes Pac-12 receivers Insider but not running backs. He rates Stanford's Ty Montgomery the No. 2 senior receiver and Arizona State's Jaelen Strong and USC's Nelson Agholor as the Nos. 2 and 3 underclassmen, but Oregon's Byron Marshall -- at 5B -- is the only conference running back to make the list.

Pac-12 NFL draft class by the numbers

May, 12, 2014
May 12
11:00
AM PT
Spring practice is over, and so is the NFL draft.

Now, the wait begins -- 107 days, to be exact. That's when Arizona State (vs. Weber State), Utah (vs. Idaho State) and Washington State (vs. Rutgers) open their 2014 seasons.

But before we look forward, we'll take another look back at how the Pac-12 fared in the NFL draft.

One word sums it up pretty well: average.

Headed into this year's draft, the conference had averaged 29.8 selections since 2000, which equated to 2.9 per team factoring in Utah and Colorado's arrival in 2011. The 34 selections this year obviously brings that total average up slightly, but it's also a hair under the per-team average (2.84).

Same thing with first-round picks. There were 55 first-round picks during that time period (3.9 per year), which means the three that went in the first round this year was close to status quo.

When Washington State safety Deone Bucannon became the last of those three picks, he snapped the Cougars' first-round drought that dated to 2003. That streak had been tied for the longest in the conference with Arizona State, which counts Terrell Suggs as its last first-rounder.

The conference finished behind the SEC (49) and ACC (42) at No. 3 with players picked in the draft, ahead of the Big Ten (30) and Big 12 (17) among the power five.

In January, Kevin Gemmell outlined who will be replacing the players who left early from the North and South divisions. The total list included 26 players. Nine of those players went undrafted: Cal's Brendan Bigelow, Kameron Jackson, Viliami Moala and Chris McCain; Oregon's Colt Lyerla; USC's Dion Bailey, George Uko and Xavier Grimble; and Utah's Jake Murphy.

There were 19 NFL teams that selected Pac-12 players: Vikings (3), Bears (2), Cowboys (2), Eagles (2), Jets (2), Saints (2), Steelers (2), Packers (2), Seahawks (2), 49ers, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chiefs, Jaguars, Patriots, Raiders, Redskins, Texans, Titans.

Here's the conference draft tally:

Stanford: 6
UCLA: 5
Oregon: 4
Arizona: 3
Arizona State: 3
USC: 3
California: 2
Oregon State: 2
Utah: 2
Washington: 2
Colorado: 1
Washington State: 1

Round-by-round:

First round
9. OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA: Minnesota Vikings
20. WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: New Orleans Saints*
27. Deone Bucannon, Washington State: Arizona Cardinals

Second round
1. OG Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA: Houston Texans
6. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington: Tampa Bay Buccaneers*
7. WR Marqise Lee, USC: Jacksonville Jaguars*
13. WR Paul Richardson, Colorado: Seattle Seahawks*
15. LB Trent Murphy, Stanford: Washington Redskins
22. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington: Tennessee Titans

Third round
6. C Marcus Martin, USC: San Francisco 49ers*
8. DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State: Minnesota Vikings*
18. DT Will Sutton, Arizona State: Chicago Bears
22. WR Josh Huff, Oregon: Philadelphia Eagles
34. TE Richard Rodgers, Cal: Green Bay Packers*

Fourth round
8. DE Cassius Marsh, UCLA: Seattle Seahawks
15. WR Shaq Evans, UCLA: New York Jets
16. CB Keith McGill, Utah: Oakland Raiders
17. RB Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona: Chicago Bears
21. LB Carl Bradford, Arizona State: Green Bay Packers*
24. RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon: Kansas City Chiefs*
26. LB Khairi Fortt, California: New Orleans Saints*
40. OT Cameron Fleming, Stanford: New England Patriots*

Fifth round
1. DE Taylor Hart, Oregon: Philadelphia Eagles
5. OG David Yankey, Stanford: Minnesota Vikings*
17. CB Shaquille Richardson, Arizona: Pittsburgh Steelers
22. S Ed Reynolds, Stanford: Philadelphia Eagles*
34. OLB Devon Kennard, USC: New York Giants

Sixth round
16. LB Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA: Pittsburgh Steelers
25. RB Marion Grice, Arizona State: San Diego Chargers
28. RB Tyler Gaffney, Stanford: Carolina Panthers
36. LB Marquis Flowers, Arizona: Cincinnati Bengals

Seventh round
16. DE Ben Gardner, Stanford: Dallas Cowboys
18. OLB Trevor Reilly, Utah: New York Jets
39. CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon: Dallas Cowboys*
*Left with eligibility remaining

By conference (FBS only)
SEC: 49
ACC: 42
Pac-12: 34
Big Ten: 30
Big 12: 17
Mountain West: 16
Conference USA: 9
Independents: 9
MAC: 8
Sun Belt: 4

Pac-12 draft recap: Day 2

May, 10, 2014
May 10
12:40
AM PT
Here's a look at how the Pac-12 fared on Day 2 of the NFL draft.

Six players were selected in the second round and five in the third, giving the conference two-day total of 14. That trails the SEC (23) and Big Ten (16) but is tied with the ACC.

Round 2

OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA: Texans, No. 1 (33 overall)
Note: The first pick of the day was also the first offensive guard selected.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington: Buccaneers, No. 6 (38)
Note: John Mackey Award winner will play for former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, Tampa Bay's new offensive coordinator.

WR Marqise Lee, USC: Jaguars, No. 7 (39)
Note: Lee was one of two receivers the Jaguars selected in the second round to pair with the No. 3 overall pick, QB Blake Bortles.

WR Paul Richardson, Colorado: Seahawks, No. 13 (45)
Note: Will give the Super Bowl champions another speedy weapon alongside Percy Harvin.

LB Trent Murphy, Stanford: Redskins, No. 15 (47)
Note: Murphy, the nation's sack leader, will get to remain at outside linebacker in Washington's 3-4 defense.

RB Bishop Sankey, Washington: Titans, No. 22 (54) Tennessee
Note: The first running back selected, Sankey will join former Washington quarterback Jake Locker in Tennessee.

Round 3

C Marcus Martin, USC: No. 6 (70) 49ers
Note: Martin will compete with Daniel Kilgore for the starting job in San Francisco.

DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State: No. 8 (72) Vikings
Note: Hopes to help his parents retire with money from his NFL career.

DT Will Sutton, Arizona State: No. 18 (82) Bears
Note: Two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year was projected by many to go much later.

WR Josh Huff, Oregon: No. 22 (86) Eagles
Note: One of two receivers who will join former Oregon coach Chip Kelly's team in Philly.

TE Richard Rodgers, Cal: No. 34 (98), Pakers
Note: Will catch passes from another Golden Bear, Aaron Rodgers (no relation).

USC's Lee highlights Pac-12 on Day 2

May, 9, 2014
May 9
4:00
PM PT
Leading up to a game against Oregon State in Novenber 2012, Stanford coach David Shaw was asked to compare the Beavers’ receiving duo (Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks) with the one at USC (Marqise Lee and Robert Woods).

[+] EnlargeMarqise Lee
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonRecord-setting WR Marqise Lee could be off the draft board early in Round 2.
“Well, first of all, I don’t mind going on record as saying that I think Marqise Lee is the best college receiver that I’ve seen since I scouted Randy Moss,” Shaw said.

He's wasn't just throwing that out there either -- Shaw was a quality control coach for the Philadelphia Eagles during Moss’ final season at Marshall. And while the future Hall-of-Famer fell to No. 21 overall in the 1998 draft, his talent was never in question.

When Shaw made the comparison, it sounded about right. At the least, it would have been difficult to argue against. Lee was on his way to what were then Pac-12 records for receptions (118) and receiving yards (1,743). It was Lee, not former No. 1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson, who was named USC’s first Fred Biletnikoff Award winner.

At the time, there was no question he would be a top-10 pick in the NFL draft. Maybe top 5.

Out of the first round? No chance.

And even as he struggled to meet the bar through nagging injuries, quarterback struggles and coaching turmoil in 2013 -- the Pac-12 blog didn’t name Lee one of the conference’s top-25 players for the 2013 season -- it was hard not to write it off as a season-long aberration. Aberration or not, it’s going to cost him a lot of money.

The first receiver picked in last year’s draft, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, received $12.8 million in guaranteed money after getting picked at No. 8 overall by St. Louis. The first receiver selected in the second round last year, Tennessee’s Justin Hunter, received $3.8 million guaranteed.

Feeling bad for someone who is about to make a life-changing amount of money to fulfill a childhood dream isn't the correct feeling, but, still, $9 million buys this house and leaves roughly $3.5 million. And that's just the minimum difference in guaranteed money.

Lee’s size came into question through the pre-draft evaluation process -- he measured at 6-foot, 192 pounds the combine -- but that didn’t hurt Austin, who measured 5-foot-8, 174 pounds. Austin ran a superior 40-time (4.34 to 4.52), but it would have been tough for a team to choose him over Lee.

Of course, none of this matters in the grand scheme of things. Lee should be one of the first players drafted in Friday’s second round, which means he’ll likely have the opportunity to contribute immediately. For a player with Lee talent, that should be enough.

Ten Pac-12 players to watch on Day 2 of the NFL draft

Pac-12 NFL draft primer

May, 8, 2014
May 8
1:00
PM PT
Despite coming off one of its strongest years in recent memory, the Pac-12 doesn’t figure to have a strong showing in the first round of the NFL draft.

Just three players — Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks, USC receiver Marqise Lee and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr — figure to hear their names called Thursday, and it's not a guarantee that all three will be picked in the first round.

In ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's final mock draft , it’s Cooks who comes off the board first, at No. 18 to the New York Jets. Both Lee (No. 21) and Barr (No. 25) follow shortly thereafter.

If that’s how it plays out, it would mark the first time since the NFL and AFL drafts combined in 1967 that the conference did not have a player drafted in top 15. Just three times in that 47-year period has the conference not had a top-10 pick, with Cal’s Marshawn Lynch to Buffalo at No. 12 in 2007 the most recent occurrence.

Mel Kiper Jr. doesn’t see that happening. In his final mock draft , Barr is off the board at No. 11 to Tennessee.

On Barr, Kiper writes:
I have Barr a bit lower on my prospect rankings than many others because I think there's a lot of development left for a player who was a fullback just two seasons ago. You can't deny his potential because not only is he a great athlete, he's also shown an ability to get to opposing quarterbacks with regularity

Kiper also predicts Cooks will land in Philadelphia, where he would join Chip Kelly's Eagles and join a receiver group that added former Stanford tight end Zach Ertz in the second round of last year's draft and needs to replace former Cal receiver DeSean Jackson.

Both Cooks and Lee are scheduled to be in New York for the draft, as well as USC center Marcus Martin, who regularly has been pegged as a likely Day 2 selection.

Matt Kalil will be at NFL Draft

March, 7, 2012
3/07/12
3:23
PM PT
Former USC left tackle Matt Kalil will be going to Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the 2012 NFL draft – and he’s bringing college coach Lane Kiffin with him to the green room.

"He’s helped me a lot as a coach since he’s been here and I owe him that, to invite him down to New York to celebrate with me," Kalil said of taking Kiffin. "It’s going to be fun."

The 6-7, 306-pound Kalil, expected to be a top-five pick in next month’s draft, worked out Wednesday at USC’s Pro Day on campus. He did not run or lift after being satisfied with those numbers at last month’s combine, but he did participate in position drills, dominating competitors in all of the line-specific workouts.

"It was fun,” he said. "These drills come easy to me. I’ve been doing them my whole life, so it’s kind of second nature to me."

He ran an official 4.99 40-yard dash in Indianapolis and did 30 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press.

Many mock drafts have Kalil projected as the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, owned by the Minnesota Vikings. New Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman was in attendance Wednesday, along with several other scouts and decision-makers for NFL teams.

Kalil’s older brother Ryan, a center for the Carolina Panthers, was also at USC for Pro Day, coaching up his younger brother in between workouts. Ryan Kalil was selected in the second round in the 2007 draft after three years starting at USC.

Matt Kalil declared early for the draft last December after two seasons as the Trojans’ starting left tackle under Kiffin.

"It definitely was a decision I made that I’m 100 percent confident in," he said Wednesday. "I’m going to have no regrets looking back."
USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil stops by the Scott Van Pelt show to discuss the NFL Scouting Combine and April’s NFL Draft.

Days 1 & 2 recap; Day 3 preview

April, 30, 2011
4/30/11
8:02
AM PT
Two days in, three Trojans have been picked in the 2011 NFL Draft. The third day stands to see several more USC products selected.

Here's a quick player-by-player breakdown of the three Trojans already selected and an overview of where the final five to seven draftees could go today:

OT Tyron Smith

Smith went ninth overall to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, where he now stands to take over the right tackle spot from Marc Colombo either immediately or in the foreseeable future. Dallas has a capable left tackle in Doug Free, but Smith could also set his sights there in the next several years. He told Dallas reporters after his selection that he sees himself as a potential Hall of Famer. For contextual purposes, last year's No. 9 pick, Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller signed a contract worth more than $20 million in guarantees four months after the draft.

DT Jurrell Casey

Casey was the next USC player to go off the board after Smith, 77th overall to the Titans, and experienced a precipitous freefall from his potential slot in the early- to mid-second round. He had even been thought of as a possible first-rounder when he declared back in December. He's a nice small-risk, high-reward pick for Tennessee and a player who will assuredly take the field with a chip on his shoulder come September.

CB Shareece Wright

Wright gets to stay local. The San Diego Chargers took him with the 89th overall selection in the third round, right around where most draft experts had him going in the weeks leading up to the draft. He could've gone higher had his big-play production been consistent during his lone starting season in 2010, but, as it is, Wright represents a solid value pick for a team looking for a potential starting cornerback. He won't be a flashy player in the NFL, but he could very easily end up being a productive starter.

Anywhere from four to seven more Trojans are expected to be selected today. Those include, in relative order of where they are projected to go, receiver Ronald Johnson, tight end Jordan Cameron, center Kristofer O'Dowd, fullback Stanley Havili, running back Allen Bradford and linebacker Malcolm Smith. Quarterback Mitch Mustain and linebacker Michael Morgan are also names NFL teams are tossing around.

Johnson is a projected fourth- or fifth-rounder; Cameron likewise. O'Dowd is a fifth-round type, whereas not much is known about Havili's draft status because of his precarious injury situation regarding his shoulder. Bradford, Smith, Mustain and Morgan will all be late-round selections, if they are picked at all.

One-on-one with Ronald Johnson

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
7:31
AM PT
Former USC receiver Ronald Johnson is one of a number of former Trojans hoping to hear their names called at some point over the next three days, whether it's Tyron Smith, who's likely to be selected early on today, or running back Allen Bradford, who's a probable Saturday selection. Johnson's somewhere in the middle. Seven-round mock drafts across the internet typically have him projected to go in the fourth or fifth rounds, although it's not inconceivable he could get picked Friday, somewhere in the third round. We caught up with Johnson on Wednesday via phone from his home in Muskegon, Mich., as he counted down the hours until the selections start today at 5 p.m. PST:

Pedro Moura: What's your thought process like at this point, as we quickly approach crunch time before the draft and the nerves start to really hit?

Ronald Johnson: At this point, I'm just putting it in God's hands, you know? Putting it in his hands to help me become the receiver and person I need to become. And I've been training my butt off, so I can't wait to get out and show what I can do.

PM: You've been meeting with NFL teams frequently over the last several weeks, like the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. What, in general, have they told you about how they see you contributing as a rookie in 2011?

RJ: A lot of teams say they need a deep threat. They want me to be that guy who can be explosive and also be the punt returner. For me coming in, that kinda helps me get on the field a lot faster, being a specialist and a receiver.

PM: What about the feedback you're getting concerning your final season as a Trojan? You finished just short of 700 yards as the team's second-leading receiver, but it wasn't quite the season you had been expecting. You did, after all, create a mini-Heisman campaign for yourself during the offseason.

RJ: Teams don't really think it adds up that my senior year went how it did. They all think it didn't really show the player I really am, so they look at it like, something went wrong -- as far as the coaching staff or me as a player. They know I'm a great player, but as far as my stats, it doesn't add up to them. It wasn't a straight disappointment, but they don't think it adds up.

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