Although this year’s USC draft class lacks both the quantity and quality of talent the program is accustomed to, offensive tackle Tyron Smith and his top-10 projection in today’s NFL draft help mask the lack of first-round talent the Trojans offer to the NFL this year.
Smith, who has been rumored to be a favorite of the Cowboys at No. 9 overall, has taken hold of the top tackle spot among potential draftees. Teams are keen on his ability to become a franchise bookend on the left side of the offensive line.
Since the college season ended, Smith has seen his stock soar among NFL scouts, who drool over his unique combination of size and athleticism. The biggest concern for Smith was his slightly undersized playing weight of 285 pounds, but at USC’s Pro Day, the 6-foot-5 lineman answered those questions weighing in at 310 pounds, while still maintaining his mobility and lateral quickness.
Originally courted by the New York Giants, who sit at No. 18 overall, Smith had a plethora of scouts, most notably Cowboys’ coach Jason Garrett, in awe during his workouts.
Quarterback Mitch Mustain has a tough road ahead of him, as he looks to be drafted by an NFL team or brave the unstable world of an undrafted free agent. While being a rookie free agent is usually a more coveted position than being taken in the last two rounds, the NFL lockout throws a wrench in those plans as teams will not be allowed to work out guys until the lawsuit is settled.
In the later rounds, the New England Patriots, along with the Philadelphia Eagles, seem to have their eye on wide receiver Ronald Johnson, a player who fits the Bill Belichick mold and the Patriots offensive system. Though Johnson didn’t run as well as hoped during his USC Pro Day, he has value as a kick returner and slot receiver because of his quickness and reliable hands.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive tackle Jurrell Casey ranks seventh on ESPN’s big board among defensive tackles, despite a subpar Pro Day.
Cornerback Shareece Wright, who is among the top 15 cornerbacks in this year’s draft, has teams eyeing him in the middle to late rounds. Wright has great instincts on the outside and shows signs of becoming an effective bump-and-run cornerback, which is a great asset coming straight out of college.
Tight end Jordan Cameron, a solid performer in his own right on Pro Day, is among the top players at his position and might top them all in sheer athleticism. Cameron wowed scouts with his great body control and soft hands.
Despite his limited experience, Cameron intrigued NFL scouts who saw his skills translate very well into a pro game that continually emphasizes speed and an overall fast pace.