Safety Taylor Mays and offensive tackle Charles Brown highlighted a historically slow NFL draft for USC players that ended Saturday.
Mays was the first former USC player to be drafted, selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 49th overall pick. Mays’ selection by the 49ers was the latest the first Trojan has been drafted since 2002.
That year, former USC cornerback Kris Richard was selected with the 85th overall pick.
UCLA also made a little history, having a player selected before a Trojan for the first time since the same 2002 draft.
The 49ers pick of Mays at such a late juncture of the draft was a surprise to many draft prognosticators, who believed that the senior safety was a sure-fire first-round pick.
After the draft, Mays was quoted as being disappointed at not being selected in the first round, and specifically called out former USC and current Seattle Seahawk coach Pete Carroll for misleading his expectations for the draft.
After Mays’ selection, it wasn’t until the final pick of the second round that another Trojan was selected — when the Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints chose Brown as the 64th overall pick.
Brown was also expected to be a late first-round or early-second round pick, but instead nosedived into the final pick of the second round, a surprise to many.
The Saints took full advantage of Brown’s drop, even though they don’t have any holes at offensive tackle.
The third round saw two more Trojans selected by NFL squads. Wide receiver Damian Williams was taken with the 77th overall pick by the Tennessee Titans, and cornerback Kevin Thomas’ name was called by the Indianapolis Colts with the 94th overall selection.
Defensive end Everson Griffen, who had been a top-flight draft prospect leading up to the draft, was selected with the second pick of the final day, No. 100 overall to the Minnesota Vikings. Like the Saints, Minnesota has no holes at the position but took advantage of Griffen’s draft drop.
Running back Joe McKnight was taken by the New York Jets just a few picks later as part of the Jets’ attempt to rebuild their running attack after letting Thomas Jones and Leon Washington go during the offseason.
Anthony McCoy, who tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine, was selected by Carroll and the Seahawks at No. 185.
Those who were not drafted were quickly signed by other NFL squads as free agents. Running back Stafon Johnson signed with the Titans, and defensive backs Will Harris and Josh Pinkard and guard Jeff Byers all signed with Seattle.