After weeks and weeks of speculation and analysis and incessant tongue baths of praise towards Andrew Luck from Mel Kiper Jr., the biggest crapshoot in all of sports has finally arrived. As every Trojan fan worth his plastic helmet and sword knows -- as well as every hater that can't stand this bragging right -- last year USC passed Notre Dame as the school with the most players ever selected in the NFL Draft with 472, 75 of them being first round picks. This year, seven Trojans hope to get a phone call from one of the NFL coaches at some point this weekend. Here are those seven players and the general projections the draftniks have for them.
Matt Kalil, OT: USC's biggest star in this draft class. An All-American with a brother playing for the Panthers, he's been projected for months to be selected by the Minnesota Vikings as the #3 pick overall. However, this past week his stock has dropped a bit, as the Vikings are now considering picking LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne to improve their pass defense after it was annihilated by their NFC North rivals last season. It would be a shock to see Kalil drop out of the top ten if the Vikings pass on him, though it's hard to tell where exactly he will end up. The Buffalo Bills have been rumored to be considering trading up for Kalil, while the Rams and Jaguars have considered taking him with the No.6 and 7 pick, respectively.
Nick Perry, DE: The out-of-state import from Detroit has had quite a rough few months leading up to the draft. His nephew was shot at a party in January and has been in the hospital ever since. Thankfully, in an article by the Detroit Free-Press, Perry revealed he recently had a phone call with Derrick, and with the support of his family, he has been able to focus on his training and give a great performance on Pro Day and the Scouting Combine. Perry has been invited to New York for the draft, and has been linked to the Patriots, Jaguars, and Browns. Of all the top prospects, Perry's stock is the hardest to pin down. Most projections have him picked somewhere late in the first round, but some have him as a second round pick or even as high as the seventh pick overall. It all comes down to whether or not a team needs to fill in a hole on the D-Line for a 4-3 defense or wants to pick up Perry as an outside LB for a 3-4 defense.
More after the jump...
DaJohn Harris, DT: Harris has had a tough time convincing teams to pick him up after initial medical examinations at the Combine revealed a small hole in his heart, resulting in his exclusion from the scouting drills. Afterwards, after further examination and clearance from his cardiologist, Harris sent letters to all the teams explaining that he was not a medical risk. Had he participated in the combine, he may have been a third round pick, but most expect him to be taken in the fourth round instead.
Rhett Ellison, TE/FB: While his stats and scouting reports haven't been glowing, Ellison's biggest selling point has been his leadership skills and extreme dedication. While Matt Barkley has been considered publicly to be the face of the USC Sanction Era, Ellison has been considered amongst his teammates to be the face of it, having chosen to spend his junior and senior years at SC instead of going to a bowl-eligible team. Coach Kiffin campaigned hard for him at Pro Day, bringing up the fact that the team has renamed their leadership award after Ellison. He's projected by most as a fourth round pick, but could be taken in the third instead.
Christian Tupou, DT: Another player praised for his dedication to the Trojans, Tupou is unfortunately likely to be one of those skilled college players that falls through the cracks at the next level. At 289 lbs., he will be outweighed by 350 lb. interior linemen, and with more and more teams making a transition to a 3-4 defense, he doesn't have the bulk that is required for that formation. Expect him to get picked up as an undrafted free agent.
Chris Galippo, LB: Galippo is one of those players whose college career is best described as a series of unfortunate events. Coming in as the top LB prospect in high school, Galippo was forced to switch mid-career to Monte Kiffin's Tampa-2 defense and has struggled greatly ever since. Combine that with nagging injuries and loss of playing time to younger, more skilled players like Dion Bailey, and Galippo doesn't have much from his time at USC to bring to the table. Expect him to be an undrafted free agent, where he will hopefully find a spot on special teams and work his way up from there.
Marc Tyler, RB: Finally there is Marc "Sexual Baller" Tyler, whose greatest legacy at USC might be giving the bruins fans another derogatory name to taunt SC with. Still, he's had quite a year, as Kiffin, Haden and Co. served him with an intervention and one-game suspension following his drunken TMZ rant, and he used the wake-up call to turn himself around and put down a 568-yard season. Not as good as the 913-yard season he posted in 2010, but enough to keep himself afloat on the team. However, after posting a 4.64 on the 40-yd dash at Pro Day, it's clear that Tyler does not have the explosive speed to be a top RB in the NFL. He has proven himself to be a tough player and a great tool when playing power football to grind out short conversions on 3rd down, but the secondary role he played to Curtis McNeal may be the role he plays throughout his pro career. He may go undrafted, but a sixth or seventh round pick is possible.