My name is Michael Peterson and I’m going to be one of Conquest Chronicles’ new community editors. Going forward, my job will be to cultivate the sense of community here at CC and supply you all with the quality content this university and fan base comes to expect.
Some quick notes about me. I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and spent time as a tight end at Drake University before finishing my degree at the University of Iowa. Current USC offensive line coach Mike Goff and I are both Iowa alums and it’s an easy reason to root for the Trojans on Saturdays. As a Los Angeles Chargers fan, USC is also one of my favorite programs to follow in hopes that a local standout will get to wear the Bolt.
I couldn’t be more stoked to start getting to know everyone in the community and I hope to get to know you in the comments section.
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Unlike last year when the Trojans sent five to the scouting combine, the crimson and gold will only be represented by a pair of former standouts this year in Indianapolis. Offensive tackle Austin Jackson and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. were the lone invites from a USC team that returns a lot of players on both sides of the football.
In 2019, the Trojans sent a number of seniors to the combine in linebackers Porter Gustin and Cameron Smith, defensive backs Marvell Tell III and Iman Marshall, and offensive tackle Chuma Edoga. Edoga (3rd), Marshall (4th), Smith (5th), and Tell (5th) were all eventually drafted while Gustin was the lone UDFA of the group. This is year is especially a far-cry from just two years ago when the Trojans had four picks all within the first three rounds, including quarterback Sam Darnold who went #3-overall to the New York Jets.
Yes, it may be a down year for the Trojans in this year’s draft class but they still managed to spit out two players to likely find themselves as early contributors in their NFL careers. So let’s get to know them, shall we?
The first of the two likely to be drafted in April at this point is Jackson. In a class that has some elite tackles at the top that are all likely to go within the first 20 picks, Jackson headlines the second tier of tackles that will go somewhere around the top of the second. He plays a position that is always of need at the next level so some team is going to potentially reach for him in hopes of landing one of the top guys.
Here are his recent measurements from Monday morning:
Jackson checks all of the boxes that scouts want in an offensive tackle at the professional level. He’s well-built at 320 pounds on that 6-foot-5 frame with sizable hands and an above-average wingspan. His athleticism is adequate for the position and his effort on film is even better. He shoots off the line of scrimmage and likes to deliver a blow before defensive linemen have a chance to collect themselves. He is adept at handling stunts and games which is helped by those “basketball feet” of his, which is another term scouts like to use to describe linemen with quick feet.
The OT class in the 2020 #NFLDraft continues to get better. There’s a lot to like about #USC LT Austin Jackson (6-6, 310, Jr.).— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) November 6, 2019
Athletic, springy out of his stance, and his hands are super strong at the POA. pic.twitter.com/QVJqytierF
Pittman Jr. is the other pea in this pod and the big wideout should likely hear his name called later on day two or sometime early on day three. The 6-foot-4, 223-pound pass-catcher looked like an anomaly at the Reese’s Senior Bowl where he was able to show off his physicality at the catch-point and elite body control through contact. Not many receivers are built like Pittman and that will most definitely keep scouts interested, even if he isn’t the most technically-savvy receiver in Indy.
For his size, scouts will likely see his hand size as a negative. Fortunately for Pittman, his game tape is littered with numerous reasons why that number shouldn’t influence feelings towards the receivers potential success at the next level. Not everyone is able to catch 100 passes, put up over 1,200 yards receiving, and score double-digit touchdowns.
Michael Pittman Jr. has ball skills teams can win with in the NFL.pic.twitter.com/0voNZ2PJCN— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 22, 2020
In the end, it may not be a similar draft class in terms of size and talent compared to the last several years in Southern California, but these two are as talented as any other skill/trench player combination from the same school in the draft.