While early round draft picks like Adoree Jackson and JuJu Smith-Schuster are likely to contribute for their teams right away, many un-drafted Trojans are hoping just to make it through training camp. With the most pivotal part of their young careers looming, these are the most likely un-drafted USC players to make an NFL roster once week one rolls around.
- Damien Mama OG- Kansas City Chiefs
Mama undoubtedly left USC a year too early, but he still possesses the pedigree of a mid-round draft pick; the guard started 25 games in his last two years on campus, with All-Pac-12 second team honors as a junior. However, poor test results at the combine and previous weight issues were likely why teams passed on him in the draft. Regardless, Mama should be able to land a spot on the Chiefs roster based on what he showed on the field. According to Pro Football Focus, he had an 87.1 pass blocking rating as junior and was the 10th best guard in his class. With current Kansas City left guard Parker Ehinger being the weak link of the team's o- line (49.9 pass blocking grade), Mama should be able to provide solid depth at that position and maybe even push for playing time.
2. Chad Wheeler OT- New York Giants
Another Trojan lineman with loads of experience, the 6’7’’ tackle started 45 games during his college career. He had the size and the film to be a potential draft pick, but it was likely off-the-field incidents (run- in with police in 2015) and injury concerns (concussions and an ACL tear in 2014) that kept him off teams’ boards. Despite these potential red flags, Ed Valentine of Big Blue View, the Giants SB Nation blog, sees it as worthwhile acquisition.
As long as Wheeler shows off the same blocking ability and footwork that made him an All-PAC-12 first team player, he should be able to crack the Giants offensive line rotation this season.
3. Justin Davis RB- Los Angeles Rams
The sole Trojan to stay in Los Angeles, Davis brings versatility and quickness to a thin running back group. Behind Todd Gurley, the Rams’ three other running backs have combined for less than 500 career yards, meaning that Davis will get a chance to move up the depth chart and prove his worth immediately. His ability to catch out of the backfield (400 career yards at USC) and evade defenders (according to PFF, he was the most elusive running back over the first half of last season) are skills that should separate him from the pack. Look for Davis to not only land a roster spot but also see some playing time as a change of pace back this season.
4. Darreus Rogers WR- Seattle Seahawks
During his senior season, it seemed likely that Rogers would get drafted in April. As Sam Darnold’s second favorite target he produced at a high level catching 56 passes for 696 yards and four touchdowns while showing a knack for making difficult, contested grabs.
Rogers’ resume sounded great until… his measurables came out. His 26.5 inch vertical was last among receivers at the combine and his 4.90 40 time at Pro Day would have been the worst by a long shot. Despite his shortcomings athletically, Rogers may be able to stick with Seattle due to their lack of big and physical receivers, as Russell Wilson’s top options Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Tyler Lockett are all on the smaller side when it comes to NFL wideouts. Rogers is by no means a lock to make the Seahawks roster, but his downfield ability will at least give him an opportunity.
5. Issac Whitney WR- Oakland Raiders
Whitney was the ultimate wild card of this year’s Trojan draft class. He showed very minimal production while at USC (just 11 career receptions), but then looked like an absolute stud at Pro Day. His 4.41 40 and 36” vertical both would have landed in the top ten if he had been invited to the Combine. Whitney looks like the exact type of prospect late owner Al Davis would have fawned over: raw, athletic and fast. There is no guarantee he ever ends up on an NFL roster in the Fall, but at least for now he has found his spiritual match in Oakland.