Robert Woods: Video Highlights of the Former USC Wide Receiver
He also hopes to avoid the pitfalls that USC quarterbacks have faced (Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez) and the mediocrity that has clouded former USC wide receivers (Steve Smith, Damian Williams and Ronald Johnson).
Luckily, the former Trojan appears to have abilities that will serve him well at the next level. He's got solid size at 6'0" and 201 pounds and reliable hands. He experienced a breakout year as a sophomore in 2011, in which he tallied 111 receptions for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns.
His junior year went pretty much the same way the rest of the Trojans did—downhill—but Woods still managed 846 yards and 11 touchdowns on just 76 catches.
Woods opted to enter the draft early after citing differences with the Trojans' play-calling. He should find a nice home somewhere in the NFL. To give you an idea of Woods' abilities, here are some of his best highlights from the past year.
Woods Burns Syracuse on a Jet Sweep
Robert Woods is not the fastest receiver in the draft. He's not even among the fastest, as evidenced by his decent 4.51 40-yard dash time at the combine.
But don't discount the guy as a runner. Syracuse does that in the above clip, and they pay the price of about 70 yards as penance.
Woods gets the ball on a simple jet sweep. As he nears the line of scrimmage, he shakes a couple of defenders off of him, clearing a near-empty running lane. He hustles in relative freedom all the way to the Syracuse eight-yard line before someone finally runs him down with an angle.
I know, if only he were a little bit faster, that would've been an 80-yard touchdown run. But given the play's actual result, you still can't complain too much.
Woods Directs Traffic While Running Downfield
Here's another highlight that showcases Woods' gifted ability to run in space.
Quarterback Matt Barkley spies Woods open deep over the middle and fires a shot to his receiver. Woods makes the grab and moves into an area infested with Utah defenders. He makes an absurd cut backward to fool an incoming defender, which springs Woods for an additional 10 yards.
As he runs, watch how he directs blockers to help gain more and more yards before he's finally tripped up. This is the kind of post-catch performance that NFL coaches salivate over.
Woods Has the Best Almost-Touchdown Ever
The first two highlights were impressive, no doubt.
This one left my jaw hanging open.
Say what you want about the circumstances. Yes, it's 4th-and-3 with only 17 seconds left to play. Yes, Oregon is crushing USC. Yes, the defense probably isn't going as hard as it would be if it were the first quarter.
But all of that aside, the effort Woods puts forth to try to reach the end zone is astonishing. After breaking away from the first defender at the first-down line, Woods curves upfield. He's met by a handful of Ducks, who he proceeds to weave between (he even has to leap over a downed teammate) until he's wrangled to the sideline around the three-yard line.
He still doesn't stop fighting. He struggles against the corner who is gripping his jersey to stay inbounds. It isn't until a fellow defender finally delivers the deathblow that Woods goes out of bounds.
This was one of the best almost-touchdown plays I've ever seen.
Woods Makes a Crisp Touchdown Catch on the Sideline
While the last highlight exposed Woods' meanness, this play shows his grace.
In a one-on-one situation with the corner, Woods pushes his route to the end zone. Barkley hangs one up for Woods on the sideline. The receiver softly leaps into the air, grips the football and lands in the narrow space between the encroaching defender and suffocating sideline.
Woods gets both feet down, hangs onto the ball despite the corner's jostling and crosses the goal line for a very well-deserved six points.
Woods Lays out for a Sweet Diving Grab
On this play, Barkley rolls out to the right side, going parallel with Woods downfield.
The quarterback rifles a pass on the run. It looks like it's off-target, a little too wide and low.
But Woods never gives up on it. He keeps sprinting and at the last moment, lays his body out to make a diving grab.
It may not have earned the Trojans six points, but it's a wonderful play by their top receiver, nonetheless.
Woods with a Beautiful Catch in the Back of the End Zone
Woods may not have the height preferred for red-zone threat wide receivers in the NFL, but that doesn't mean it isn't effective in those situations.
See the above highlight for proof. Woods lines up in the slot at UCLA's three-yard line. Immediately after the ball is snapped, Barkley chucks it up toward the back of the end zone.
Thanks to Woods' impressive arm length, UCLA's corner never stood a chance. He tried to block out Woods' view, but the receiver never loses sight of the ball. He reaches out with perfect timing and grabs the ball behind the corner's head just as the crowd erupts in joy.
Woods Turns a Disaster into a First Down
It's 3rd-and-12 for the Trojans. They draw up a simple bubble screen to Woods at the bottom of the screen. It's a common move, a low-risk play that could have a huge reward in the long-yardage situation.
As soon as Woods makes the catch, he sees a defender coming straight at him. With his path upfield blocked, he does what typically makes coaches and fans scream in unison: He starts running toward the other sideline.
He jukes back a few steps, losing more yards than he is gaining at first. Then something happens. A lane appears, a blocker clears a path. Woods cuts forward and slices through a few blockers. He loses his balance as he turns the corner...
...Only to dive with football extended to pick up the first down. It's not the kind of thing you'd want Woods to do often, but it's hard to fault the guy when it works.
One Does Not Simply Tackle Robert Woods
Woods plays with a strength that betrays his merely average size.
In this clip, Woods starts with a short curl route. He turns upfield as a Colorado corner tries to go low. But he goes low too soon, allowing Woods to extend a long stiff arm to keep the defender at bay while he blows by him.
With that obstacle out of the way, Woods sprints down the sideline toward pay dirt. One last player has a chance at tackling Woods. Yet instead of trying to go low into Woods' chest and knock him out of bounds, the defender goes way too high. Woods shrugs him, maintains balance on the edge and sprints for a touchdown.
With the skills shown in these highlights, Woods figures to be a second-round steal for one lucky team in the 2013 NFL draft.