USC Football: 9 Predictions for Trojans Taken in the NFL Draft
Now that the ribbons have been tied on the 2011 NFL draft, we can now turn our attention to how the nine USC Trojans who were taken will perform in the upcoming season.
Of course, that is assuming there is an upcoming season which, unfortunately, is not a given.
If the powers that be in the NFL can get their collective act together, then they will find a spectrum of abilities from this collection of Trojans, ranging from starter material to long-term projects.
For fans of the Trojans, ones who have seen the progression of these players over their Trojan careers, they will probably not be surprised by the success (or in some cases, the lack thereof) that these players will have on the professional level.
So lets take a look at the "Trojan nine," who made the cut in this most peculiar of NFL drafts...
No. 9: Malcolm Smith (39th Player Taken in the Seventh Round)
Malcolm Smith, who was an underachiever while at USC, is now reunited with his former coach, Pete Carroll.
One can only assume that Carroll had some input in the choice to draft Smith, and it must have been predicated on Carroll's assumption that he can finally get his former linebacker at USC to play up to his potential.
Of course, given the relative low cost of the pick, it is probably a case of "little ventured, little gained," even if Smith turns out to be a bust.
Prediction: Practice squad or late camp release.
No. 8: David Ausberry (38th Player Taken in the Seventh Round)
Al Davis has always been fascinated by big wide receivers, and David Ausberry certainly fits the bill.
At 6'3", 235 lbs., Ausberry will probably be looked at to provide a big target down around the goal line for the Raiders.
At USC, Ausberry always seemed on the cusp of greatness but never could quite find the consistency to be a reliable weapon for the Trojans.
In the NFL, Ausberry will have to find a way to become a possession receiver that runs crisp routes because he won't outrun NFL defensive backs anytime soon.
Prediction: Practice squad or late camp release.
No. 7: Stanley Havili (37th Player Taken in the Seventh Round)
For Trojan fans, it only seemed like Stanley Havili had been USC's fullback for the last decade.
Not to say they weren't grateful to Havili, who was one of the offenses most consistent players, because they were indeed.
Havili could always be counted on to make plays when needed and his good hands and speed served him well at the NFL combine.
In fact, Havili was by far the fastest fullback at the combine.
However, there were some concerns regarding his size and blocking, and it was these perceived deficiencies that dropped him to the last round.
Drafted by Andy Reed and the Philadelphia Eagles, it is in these areas that Havili must work on prior to and during the Eagles preseason camp, should it ever take place.
Prediction: Havili will not only stick but be a very pleasant surprise to Reed and his staff.
No. 6: Allen Bradford (22nd Player Taken in the Sixth Round)
When all is said and done, Allen Bradford may wind up being the steal of the draft.
At USC, many said that if not for the coaching staff, who held him back in their estimation, Bradford might have been dominant in his career with the Trojans.
But there was a reason that he did not play a bigger part for the Trojans in his USC career.
Inconsistent and prone to fumbling, Bradford always seemed to shoot himself in the foot just when he was beginning to assert himself.
Now he will get a chance to prove to the Tampa Bay Buc's, that all along, he should have carried the rock more for the Trojans.
Bradford certainly has the tools to succeed at the next level.
At a rock solid 242 lbs.and possessing 4.58 speed, Bradford has a good chance to be a very good short-yardage option and a solid blocking back.
Prediction: Bradford will make the team and contribute in variety of ways (special teams and as a running back).
No. 5: Ronald Johnson (17th Player Taken in the Sixth Round)
Apparently, Jim Harbaugh liked what he saw of Ronald Johnson while coaching against him at Stanford.
Harbaugh, now the head coach of the 49ers, could hardly go wrong in spending a sixth-round pick on Johnson, who has the talent to have a solid career in NFL.
In Johnson, the 49ers will get a good receiver who can contribute both in multiple receiver sets as well as on special teams as a punt returner.
Now he will get a chance to prove his worth in both areas.
Possessing good speed (4.48 at the combine), Johnson will need to tighten up his route running, but he has the work ethic to become a reliable receiver for San Francisco.
Prediction: Johnson will make the team and contribute.
No. 4: Jordan Cameron (5th Player Taken in the Fourth Round)
If you want measurables, Cameron is your guy.
After posting a 4.59 40 and 37.5" vertical at the NFL combine, to go along with his 6'5", 252 lb. frame, Cameron had many NFL scouts drooling and apparently those from the Cleveland Browns were among them.
However, he is short on experience at the position having only played there one year while at USC, and this lack of "tight end acumen" will make him a project for the Cleveland Browns.
Still, the potential is there and at some point, Jordan Cameron will be heard from.
How long that takes is anyone's guess.
Prediction: He will absolutely make the team but will not play much.
No. 3: Shareece Wright (25th Player Taken in the Third Round)
The Chargers need depth at cornerback and in Shareece Wright, they get that and more.
Wright flashed very good speed at the combine (4.41 40), and his technique impressed scouts as well.
After overcoming some maturity problems that plagued him early in his Trojan career, Wright now seems capable of making the commitment to becoming the best player he can be.
If he does, he can be a very good cornerback for San Diego.
Look for him to see some playing time, perhaps in dime packages.
Prediction: Wright will make the team and contribute.
No. 2: Jurrell Casey (13th Player Taken in the Third Round)
In hindsight, perhaps Jurrell Casey made a mistake by coming out after his junior year with the Trojans.
With the NFL draft being heavily laden with quality defensive linemen, Casey, who is probably a first-round talent in most years, fell to the middle of the third round where he was taken by the Tennessee Titans who are still looking to replace Albert Haynesworth.
In Casey, the Titans get a fairly athletic run stuffer who will need to improve his sack totals to become a dominant player in the pros.
If he can, Casey will be a fixture for years at the position.
A hard worker, look for Casey to make those improvements and enter the Titans starting interior line corps sooner rather than later.
Prediction: Casey will make the team and see significant minutes.
No. 1: Tyron Smith (Ninth Player Taken in the First Round)
In a draft full of surprises, the pick of the Dallas Cowboys carried none at all.
By far the most athletic of the offensive linemen coming out this year, the only question surrounding Smith was his weight.
When he showed up to the combine weighing 309 lbs. and still was over .1 faster than the next speediest O-lineman, the die was cast for the Cowboys to make the pick.
Though Smith played exclusively on the right side of the line for the Trojans, he will be groomed to play left tackle where his mobility will serve him well in protecting his quarterbacks blind side.
The only question is how quickly Smith will pick up on the intricacies of the new position.
If he struggles, he may stay on the right side until he proves adept at the switch.
Prediction: First-round draft choices not only make teams, they start as well.
Although the Trojans had their customary bevy of players drafted, this was somewhat misleading because only four were drafted within the first four rounds.
Still, for a team that only went 8-5 last year, USC tied for the lead with North Carolina as the most highly represented programs at the annual NFL meat market.
Yet, there was still disappointment for fans of the former men of Troy.
Among those who went undrafted was perennial Trojan starter, center Kris O'Dowd, who will probably catch on somewhere and Butch Lewis, Zack Heberer (offensive linemen) as well as Derek Simmons (defensive lineman).
Unfortunately for these guys (and all other free agents), without a collective bargaining agreement in place, teams are prohibited from getting in touch with prospective players so they will be twisting in the wind for the time being.
In the final analysis, given the fact that the Trojans had comparatively few players in the draft (16), they fared pretty well to have nine chosen.
It is a tribute to the prowess of USC to turn out a stable of NFL drafted players even coming off a down year.
Now fans of the program want to see how many more can get drafted when they return to the glory of recent days gone by.
And so would Lane Kiffin...
Check out this great piece by Bill N. on USC being a "football factory":