USC Football: NFL Combine Results And Analysis
Wide receiver Robert Woods put on a show at the combine. While his 40-yard dash time of 4.52 won’t blow you away, Woods was extremely fluid in his route running, his ball-catching ability was second to none and scouts have not forgotten that he was one of the most dominant wide receivers in the nation a year ago. Woods could sit on his Combine numbers without adding to his already impressive resume, but running a 40-yard dash in the 4.4s would leave scouts drooling. Woods is NFL-ready and will step in and contribute right off the bat on his way to becoming some quarterback's security blanket for the next decade. Reminiscent of Hakeem Nicks, a physical receiver who can beat a defense deep or make a crucial short-yard third down conversion, Woods should expect to be selected in the top 40 picks come April.
Cornerback Nickell Robey will have a lot to gain at USC’s Pro Day. The Trojans’ lone lockdown corner measured 5-foot-7 in Indianapolis, leaving scouts wondering if he will be able to guard tall, physical wide receivers at the next level. Robey ran a somewhat disappointing 40-yard dash of 4.53. Widely considered one of the fastest Trojans on the roster last season, Robey will need to shave at least a tenth of a second off his time to show scouts that he is capable of running step for step with receivers down the field. He showed great instincts in the Combine drills and tested well in most athletic exercises. If Robey can build upon his 40-yard dash and flash the same skills he displayed for the Trojans over the past three seasons, he has a chance to be selected on the second day of the draft.
Safety T.J. McDonald performed well at the NFL Combine. Scouts love his NFL pedigree, solid 40-yard dash time, 40-inch vertical jump and leadership ability. McDonald will need to prove that he is a sideline-to-sideline tackler. Range and a quick first step are crucial for a safety, but he was viewed as having a down year last season despite respectable statistics. McDonald has an opportunity to be a second-day selection if he tests well in positional drills at his Pro Day.
Last but not least, all eyes will be on quarterback Matt Barkley at USC’s Pro Day. With no quarterback cementing himself as the best overall prospect at the NFL Combine, Barkley has an opportunity to be drafted in the top 10 if he performs well during his throwing session. It was reported that Barkley left a positive impression on several teams during the interview process at the Combine, but the next two months are clouded with smokescreens and deception, and it is wise to take anything associated with an anonymous source with a grain of salt.
The topic of Barkley’s arm strength has been beaten to a pulp over the course of the last couple of months, leaving scouts wondering if he can make every NFL-caliber throw. Coming off a Grade 3 shoulder separation that prevented him from playing in the last two games of the season, it is believed that Barkley will be at full strength by the end of the month. Barkley will try to debunk a negative stigma associated with past USC quarterbacks who are believed to have gone "Hollywood," but Barkley hardly fits the mold. Barkley is all football all the time, a philanthropist, and rode it out with USC during Troy’s darkest days. He is a first class individual, a leader, and will hope to be the face of an NFL franchise in the near future.
Reach Staff Writer Jeremy Shapiro here.