2009 NFP Scouting Series: USC

Dale ThortonCorrespondent IAugust 2, 2009

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 1:  Taylor Mays #2 of the USC Trojans looks on against the Penn State Nittany Lions on January 1, 2009 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  USC won 38-24.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

For the rest of the summer, the National Football Post will break down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who might warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.

The University of Southern California has sent a plethora of talent to the NFL during the past decade and will likely do the same next year with another stellar crop of prospects on both sides of the football.


Stafon Johnson: No. 13, RB, 5-11, 215

Possesses a nice-sized frame and displays impressive burst of speed for a back his size. Has the ability to consistently reach the corner and demonstrates the vision and agility to hit the cutback lane along the way.

An instinctive back that makes good decisions at the line of scrimmage when running the ball outside and doesn’t make many negative runs. Is really sudden out of his breaks and gets up to full speed quickly.

Exhibits the power to step through would-be tacklers, but doesn’t consistently showcase the type of aggressive running style you would expect from a back his size. Has a tendency to dance too much at times and leaves some yards on the field.

Impression: Has a great combination of size, quickness and speed, but doesn’t always run with the type of power his frame would indicate.

Damian Williams: No. 18, WR, 6-1, 190

An intelligent receiver who not only runs sharp routes, but also does a great job changing speeds and baiting corners. Plays with a nice combination of savvy and athleticism, and knows how to separate/uncover vs. both man and zone coverage.

Plucks the ball away from his frame and showcases the ability to create additional yards after the catch. Isn’t a pure home-run threat, but has enough speed to threaten defenses deep and gets on top of corners quickly.

Impression: Has the makings of a high-caliber starting receiver in the NFL.

Anthony McCoy: No. 86, TE, 6-5, 255

A big, flexible athlete who displays the ability to bend and fire out of his stance. Is a bit of a strider, but does possess some burst to his game when asked to get down the field. However, he will chop his feet when trying to get out of routes and lacks some polish as an underneath route runner.

Displays a good feel in the pass game, knows how to sit down in zone coverage and will work his way back toward the QB. Let's the ball get into his body too often, but has the frame to absorb the hit and hold on. Is a coordinated blocker whose hands and feet consistently move in sync.

Impression: A big target with intriguing straight-line speed and the ability to hold his own as a blocker at the next level.

Charles Brown: No. 71, OT, 6-6, 298

A gifted athlete who displays the ability to really fire out of his stance. Does a great job sealing defenders away from the ball in the run game and has the athleticism to get around on reach blocks.

He understands leverage and consistently drops his pad level on contact to help set the edge. Is very coordinated on slide-down blocks as well and exhibits the body control to hit and drive a moving target away from his frame.

Lacks some lead in the pants and doesn’t possess heavy hands. Although he does a nice job extending his arms in pass protection, he can be bull-rushed and walked into the quarterback’s lap.

Impression: Has the athleticism and body control to play left tackle at the next level, but needs to add a little more power to his base.

Jeff Byers: No. 53, OG, 6-3, 288

Plays with natural flexibility and does a nice job sitting in his stance and fighting for inside position. Delivers a sudden punch and recoils quickly, but lacks much pop on contact.

Allows his base to get too narrow in pass protection and struggles sliding laterally when asked to mirror defenders. Lacks the upper body strength to stall linemen outright once they gain a step on him, but works hard to say on blocks. Possesses decent fluidity in the open field and has the coordination to reach and punch a moving target away from the play.

Impression: A tough, coordinated lineman who does all the little things and has a chance to stick on an NFL roster.

Kristofer O’Dowd: No. 61, OC, 6-5, 300

A fluid athlete who gets into his blocks quickly and has the athleticism to angle linemen away from the play. Does a nice job keeping his hands and feet in sync and looks very coordinated in pass protection. Exhibits natural body control in the open field, has the ability to chip at the line and seal a moving target at the next level.

However, he has a tendency to get too high on contact and lacks great power at the point of attack. Isn’t real heavy-handed and struggles staying engaged on slide-down blocks.

Impression: Possesses good coordination and length, but needs to continue to add strength to his overall game.


Everson Griffen: No. 93, DE, 6-3, 265

A really sudden defensive end who knows how to use his lateral mobility and hands to slip blocks. Is a polished defensive end for his age who takes a positive first step off the edge and gets on top of offensive tackles very quickly.

His footwork out of his stance, paired with his overall burst, allows him to consistently reach and turn the corner off the snap. Possesses a powerful outside swat move and makes it difficult for defensive linemen to get their hands on him on his pass rush.

Needs to do a better job playing with a lower pad level and sharpening his speed rush off the edge. However, he does a great job taking offensive tackles up the field and exploding into the exposed inside rush lane.

Impression: A good athlete with impressive lateral mobility, but it’s his positive first step out of his stance that makes him so effective.

Josh Pinkard: No. 36, CB/S, 6-2, 210

A thickly built defensive back that looks more like a safety but has lined up at corner throughout his career and is comfortable in man coverage. Lacks ideal speed and burst for the position and doesn’t possess the kind of first step to explode out of his breaks.

Displays a flexible drop and is very smooth and balanced when asked to redirect in space. Does a nice job cleanly changing directions and possesses the coordination to punch and reroute receivers off the line.

Is very physical in all areas of the game, but likes to play with his hands and at times gets a bit grabby. Does a nice job in the run game, has the power to rag-doll receivers at the point of attack and consistently sheds blocks.

Impression: A fluid defensive back with good balance, footwork and physicality, but his lack of pure straight-line speed will likely force him to make the move to safety.

Will Harris: No. 26, SS, 6-1, 205

An intelligent safety who understands his role on the defense and doesn’t make many mental mistakes. Consistently fulfills his assignment and plays within the system.

Is very patient in his drop and does a nice job reading and reacting to the play. However, he lacks an instinctive closing burst and doesn’t make many plays on the football.

Isn’t real flexible and struggles breaking down in space. Has a tendency to reach on ball carriers, which causes him to lose balance and fail to secure the tackle.

Impression: A savvy safety who always puts himself in position to make a play, but lacks that ball-hawking element to consistently finish the deal.

Taylor Mays: No. 2, FS, 6-3, 230

Possesses a massive upper body for the position with a learner lower half. Displays good awareness down the field and showcases the coordination to go up and knock the ball away at its highest point.

Exhibits better footwork than he’s given credit for, but it’s the body control he displays for a man his size that makes him so effective. Possesses impressive closing speed and has the athleticism to play the center field-type role.

Has a really good first step and looks like an absolute missile closing on the football. Throws his body around with reckless abandon and has an intimating style of play. Does a great job timing the play and consistently disengages ball from man on contact.

Gets too high and leggy when asked to change directions, and it takes him a couple of steps to get back up to speed when asked to redirect. Is a bit heavy-footed when trying to break down in space and at times struggles wrapping up the ball carrier in the open field. Doesn’t showcase the type of stack-and-shed ability you would expect from a man his size.

Impression: Has a rare physical skill set with great ball skills and closing speed. He can be as good as he wants if he’s willing to put in the work.


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