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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: February 27, 10:24 AM ET
Mixed results for Trojans at combine

By Garry Paskwietz
WeAreSC

The NFL scouting combine concluded with a mixed bag of results for the USC players in attendance.

The majority of early attention centered around Matt Barkley, as the quarterbacks were the first to go through the media interview process. This is an area where Barkley obviously is going to shine, and he handled all the questioning with predictable ease.

There were a lot of questions about his injured shoulder and the fact that he would not be throwing at the event. Barkley said he wanted to throw but that the shoulder just wasn't there yet, and he thought it was best to wait until USC's pro day March 27. That decision didn't wind up hurting Barkley, since Geno Smith was really the only quarterback who did enough to claim a place at the top of the quarterback pecking order coming out of the combine. If Barkley has a good pro day showing, he will join Smith as the top two quarterbacks heading into the draft.

Robert Woods
Robert Woods could use a slightly better 40 time, but he was fundamentally sound in workouts.
Barkley had team interview sessions with the Jets, Eagles, Steelers, Raiders, Chiefs, Bills, Jaguars, Cardinals and Bucs.

One of the best pieces of news for Barkley was the fact that he measured in at 6-foot-2½, which squashed lingering speculation that he was really 6-foot-1 and change. With Barkley fighting for positioning in the early part of the draft, he didn't need concerns about his height becoming an issue.

The opening day of the combine brought more injury news for the Trojans when center Khaled Holmes injured his pectoral muscle during the bench-press testing. Holmes put up 13 reps of 225 pounds before being forced to withdraw from the rest of the combine because of the injury.

It was unfortunate timing for Holmes in many ways. He already had missed the Senior Bowl because of injury, and there have been ankle and neck issues during his USC career. On top of that, there is a good group of centers in this class. Right now Holmes is rated No. 4 at the position by Mel Kiper, but any chance he had of moving up took a hard hit by not being able to participate. Holmes still has an opportunity to make a strong impression at the USC pro day next month.

Robert Woods is part of a deep group of receivers, and he was able to do enough to show he deserves to be an early round selection.

There was a ton of buzz for a receivers when they ran 40s, as 15 receivers went faster than 4.5 seconds. Woods was at 4.51 -- nothing to be ashamed of, by any means -- but he will have a chance to get into the 4.4s at the USC pro day.

ESPN's John Clayton wrote, "Sunday's track meet showed this draft has depth at the position even though many of the receivers looked raw in running precise routes."

Clayton certainly wasn't talking about Woods. Those who have watched Woods play through the years know speed is part of his game, but he really shines with fundamentals such as route-running, and that was evident at the combine. Current USC receiver Nelson Agholor tweeted while watching the combine that Woods was "putting on a clinic" with his smooth routes and solid hands.

Woods said he was scheduled to meet with the Packers, Vikings, Raiders and 49ers, among others.

T J McDonald
T.J. McDonald measured well and carries an NFL pedigree, all but assuring him a solid draft position.
There were three USC defensive backs in attendance: safeties T.J. McDonald and Jawanza Starling, along with cornerback Nickell Robey.

McDonald helped himself as much as any of the three with a performance that likely will secure a mid-round selection or better. He measured in at 6-foot-2½, 220 pounds and had a 40-inch vertical leap to go along with a 4.59 40. McDonald also looked athletic in drills. After his drills were over, McDonald sent out a tweet that said "preparation met opportunity."

McDonald met with the Steelers, Broncos and Redskins. Teams know McDonald grew up in an NFL household -- his father, Tim, is currently the defensive backs coach for the New York Jets -- and they would be getting a player who knows the game.

Starling needed a good showing at the combine, as he is currently viewed as being on the bubble between late-round pick or free agent. He ran a 4.64 40, but the lasting image of him for many will be an awkward, mistimed leap during a drill that resulted in a dropped ball.

The most notable 40 time for the Trojans came from Robey, who measured in at 5-foot-7¾ and 169 pounds. At that size, it was important for Robey to post an impressive time, and he was shooting for something in the 4.4 range. He ran 4.53 and will look to improve upon that at the pro day.

The good news for Robey is that he showed the ball skills in drills to solidify his reputation as a potential slot corner. He also put up 10 reps of 225 in the bench press, a nice number for a 169-pound guy.