This years NFL draft, in regards to USC, has been a little quiet.
When you have had 20-plus players drafted in the past couple of drafts it should not be surprising that USC has a quiet year every once in a while.
There are of course a number story lines that will be interesting to see how they play out. I am not really interested in listening to the so called experts in regards to any players in the draft. There have just as many star players that have failed as there are unknowns who were very successful, these guys are as wrong as many times as they are right and a lot of what they say is either biased or misinformed. So I will do my best to not quote Kiper, Mayock or the insufferable Todd McShay.
Lets look at Taylor Mays first.
Many wondered if it was a smart move for Mays to come back last season when it was a foregone conclusion that Mays was going to be a first round pick...possibly a top 10 pick as some of the hype was suggesting. Many wonder if Mays was not used correctly last season.
Here is some of what is being said.
No high-profile defensive player has faced more scrutiny since leaving college than the three-time All-America safety. Much in the same way they have picked apart Tim Tebow's game, scouts and draft analysts have uncovered every flaw in Mays'.
Here's Pro Football Weekly analyst Nolan Nawrocki's take:
"He's big. He's very fast in a straight line. When he's got a clean shot, he'll knock your head off. He will hit you. But when he has to move laterally, it all starts to break down.
"He can't transition easily. He gets exposed in man coverage. He's a leaky tackler. And he doesn't play the ball well. You have to hide his coverage limitations. That's the only way you can maximize his talent.
"He has the height. He has the name. I'm not saying he's going to slide terribly far. But there's a big difference between where guys get drafted and the pros they become."
Many of those problems are easily fixed in the NFL with the proper coaching. If Mays gets the right guy to develop him at the next level, I have no doubt that he can be better than advertised.
Here is Mays' take...
"It's been tough," he said after USC's April pro day. "It's been up and down, especially because I feel like I've put a lot of time and effort into it. I feel like I've put my life into this, and then things go a lot of different ways."But it comes with the territory. I've just got to control what I can control and do what I've got to do. I guess it might make it that much sweeter if I'm successful with all the negative stuff people say."
I think Mays will be successful NFL player. I think he needs a little more coaching at the next level and he should not be expected to be in charge of so much on the defense. Many thought he was playing too far off the ball, being the last line of defense but that was flawed. The one play that stands out was the TD catch by Golden Tate against ND this past season He was clearly out of position to make a play on the ball and when he did arrive to make the hit he really didn't have an impact.
So much for guarding against the big play...
Mays himself has admitted that Pete Carroll wanted him to hit hard. That's fine I am not really going to dissect every decision that Pete Carroll made but his use of Mays garnered the most feedback with USC fans...
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Lets look at Everson Griffen.
I don't know if there was any player on USC that was more misunderstood than Griffen.
There is no question that the kid has natural talent but his work ethic came under scrutiny numerous times in his three years at USC. There were times where he was an absolute monster and there were others where he was a complete bonehead.
But since he started preparing for the draft he has really focused.
"I didn't always do what I was supposed to," Griffen said. "I definitely made a change."
Griffen credited defensive line coach Jethro Franklin (now at Temple) for his transformation. Franklin was hired last year when Holt became the defensive coordinator at Washington.
"It all started with coach (Franklin) coming in," Griffen said. "He taught me more than playing football. He taught me off the field."
Horton also noticed the difference. "His third year, he was the guy and took on a leadership role and knew he couldn't act the way he was acting," he said.
Franklin's advice carried over into Griffen's draft workouts, where he bonded with other prospects and learned to interact more with others.
"Working hard every day with (USC safety) Taylor Mays, (Clemson tailback) C.J. Spiller and (Notre Dame quarterback) Jimmy Clausen, that tight family that we are just helped me out a lot," Griffen said.
Griffen's comments show progress. In his first two years, he rarely tried to explain his feelings. But whether Griffen made the right decision to skip his senior year will be known during the draft.
It is all about what is between the ears not the brawn.
If Griffen keeps his head in the game he could be a real special player in the NFL.
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The Quiet Leader - Damian Williams
I don't think there is single bad thing you can say about D-Will. He came in from Arkansas as the "other guy" and quietly went to work and became a tremendous weapon on the offense.
No one is going to be happier than me to D-Will have a successful NFL career.
He has done everything right!
There are at least 20 college receivers eligible for this week's NFL draft who are faster than Damian Williams. But few if any run better patterns than Williams, who led USC in receiving the last two seasons.
What Williams is trying to do is become another pattern breaker. He wants to avoid the route run by former Trojans Mike Williams (10th overall), Dwayne Jarrett (second round) and Keary Colbert (second round), all highly touted receivers from this decade who have done little to justify their draft position.
Trojans standout Steve Smith avoided that pitfall. Taken in the second round by the New York Giants in 2007, Smith led the NFC in receptions last season and made the Pro Bowl.
Good thing for him, Damian Williams has drawn positive comparisons to Smith. They're both terrific route runners with outstanding hands but only average size and speed.
The NFL obviously loves their big and lanky wide receivers but those type don't always pan out.
Steve Smith was always the quiet guy. There wasn't a lot of hype attached to Smith other than and I think that enabled him to work under the radar and have a very solid career for his 3 years in the league. Smith wasn't the same type of receiver that Jarrett was and I think that served him perfectly. Smith was instrumental in the Giants winning the super bowl.
Damian Williams has many of those same qualities...he just need the right team to take him and utilize his strengths. He doesn't need to be the #1 receiver to have a solid career.
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The one player we all want to keep our eyes on is Stafon Johnson...
After all he has been through I think anyone will be happy if he is drafted and gets the chance to make a run at it in the professional ranks.