Eight former Trojans will join the best of the best in Indianapolis in two weeks for the NFL Scouting Combine. A total of 330 athletes who declared for the NFL Draft following the completion of the 2016 season will attend the week-long event, which tracks the physical talent of the prospects.
Offensive tackle Zach Banner, running back Justin Davis, cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, guard Damien Mama, wide receivers Darreus Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schuster, nose tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu and center Chad Wheeler will represent USC in
After three days of examinations and interviews with teams, Banner, Wheeler, Mama and Davis will take the field on March 3 in offensive line and running back on-field workouts. Jackson might also be selected to work out on this day to gauge his abilities on special teams.
Smith-Schuster and Rogers will take the field the next day to compete against an array of
top-ranked wide receiver prospects, including Clemson’s Mike Williams. Tu’ikolovatu will be the sole Trojan working out in Sunday’s defensive line sessions. At 26, Tu’ikolovatu will also be one of the oldest athletes participating in the combine. Finally, Jackson will take the field with the defensive backs’ group.
Jackson is the highest-ranked Trojan, followed closely by Smith-Schuster and Banner. However, the entire group is ranked very closely: At the top, Jackson was given a 5.9 entering the combine, while Davis earned the lowest rank of the group at 5.1. Those numbers still have the possibility of changing over the combine week depending upon each player’s result in the tests and on-field workouts.
The combine is an important factor in any prospect’s draft value, showcasing both raw physical ability and position-based skills. An athlete’s performance in the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, the bench press or position-specific drills can make the difference between a first-round or second-round draft pick.
The Trojans have produced 496 draft picks, more than any other football program in the country, with 79 of those picks going in the first round. At least one Trojan has been drafted every year since 1939. After the combine, it will only be a waiting game until April 27, when the Cleveland Browns will kick off this year’s draft and begin shaping the next year of the NFL.