NFL draft day

Former USC coach Pete Carroll left for the NFL right as the semester started.

Now, with the spring semester coming to a close, many of the players Carroll mentored during his time at USC will be moving on to the pros as well.

As many as 16 Trojans could be drafted in the NFL’s annual college draft, which begins Thursday at 4:30 p.m. when the St. Louis Rams will be put on the clock with the first overall pick of the draft.

Thursday’s portion will only cover the first round, as the draft has been extended to a three-day event to bring more viewership and interest. Friday will cover the second and third rounds, and the 2010 draft will wrap up with the final four rounds on Saturday afternoon.

USC’s draft class will be hard pressed to live up to 2009’s class, which featured former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was among many draft prognosticator’s highest-rated prospects and was drafted fifth overall by the New York Jets.

This year’s class is highlighted by four talented professional prospects expected to go in the first two rounds. Safety Taylor Mays was the talk of the NFL combine after running a controversial 40-yard dash and is expected to be drafted near the end of the first round or during the second.

Defensive end Everson Griffen and offensive tackle Charles Brown are also expected to come off the board around that time, as both have demonstrated NFL potential.

Receiver Damian Williams is expected to be selected by the time the second round is complete.

Draft analysts begin to disagree on the later rounds, but other departing Trojans with a good chance of being selected before the end of Saturday include running backs Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson, tight end Anthony McCoy and defensive backfield specialists Will Harris and Kevin Thomas.

Offensive lineman Alex Parsons, defensive tackle Averell Spicer and safety Josh Pinkard might also be drafted in the latter portions of the draft or could find work in post-draft free agency.

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