What We Learned from USC Football Pro Day
The USC Trojans hosted their pro day on March 27 with a number of NFL scouts making the trek to L.A. to check on the departing stars from the Trojans program.
Matt Barkley brought a lot of chatter, and his overall performance was as good as could be expected. A number of other players worked out with some positives and some negatives that followed.
Here is a look at what we took from pro day at USC.
Barkley Impresses Some, Misses with Others
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Coming off shoulder surgery, there was a lot of concern surrounding quarterback Matt Barkley. He already had arm-strength criticisms that followed him, so added injuries were a major concern.
He showed up, threw 62 passes and looked as good as everyone expected.
One scout said (via L.A. Times): "If you liked him before, you could find reasons to like him more. If you didn't like him, you could find reasons for that too."
He is a very polarizing prospect at the quarterback position. Teams are either on board or they are deathly afraid of what Barkley’s NFL future will be.
Of his 62 passes on Wednesday, he completed 56. Whether against a Stanford defense or thin air, completing that many throws on varying routes is impressive after shoulder surgery.
This was a solid day for Barkley.
Robert Woods Shows Out
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Robert Woods is a solid receiver prospect in the draft, but he was considered to be a later-round selection until his showing at pro day.
He made some great plays, but it may have been talks with Minnesota receivers coach George Stewart that paid off the most.
Coach Stewart told the L.A. Times: "We're a character organization from ownership on down. I had a chance to visit with [Woods'] mom and dad, and they're character people. Those are the type of people who will turn an organization, character people. That's a premium for us."
Sam Farmer also points out that the Vikings just traded Percy Harvin to the Seahawks for several draft picks—one of which is in the first round.
In no way am I saying that Woods is a first-round selection, but at this point it appears possible after his solid day on the field and in the interview room.
Speed Not in Abundance
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The USC Trojans are known for being one of the fastest programs in the country every year. However, after the pro day 40-yard dash results were revealed, that reputation could be about to change.
The USC Athletics Twitter feed dropped updated times throughout the day. Here were the results:
Latest #USCProDay 40 times: Tony Burnett (4.58), Jeremy Galten (5.35), Wes Horton (4.87) and Khaled Holmes (5.37).— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) March 27, 2013
Latest #USCProDay 40 times: Zach Kusnir (5.07), Drew McAllister (4.66), Nickell Robey (4.50) and Jawanza Starling (4.60).— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) March 27, 2013
For the record, 40 times are not an exact science but our times are the electronic times which are often .1 slower than scouts hand times.— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) March 27, 2013
Notice the disclaimer about the laser times from the school—at the end of the day, the players were just slower than anyone expected.
These times weren’t terrible, but they won’t turn heads either.
Nickell Robey Has a Solid Day
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Of all the prospects that hit the field for USC on pro day, Nickell Robey had the strongest day.
Robey had a 40.5” vertical, and finished with the team's fastest 40-yard dash—a 4.4.
He isn’t the biggest secondary prospect in the draft, but Robey is one of the most electric. He proved on pro day that despite his 5’7” frame, he still has the skills to take on the NFL.
Look for his stock to rise after this performance.
T.J. McDonald Limits Exposure
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T.J. McDonald was limited in his exposure to the scouts on pro day after having a very solid combine performance.
He did have a solid broad jump at pro day, but he relied on his combine results for every other drill.
T.J. McDonald only participated in the broad jump inside. He leapt 10'11". #USCProDay— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) March 27, 2013
He is one of the stars for the Trojans, but he is not expected to be picked high in the draft. Nothing changed on pro day.