Wednesday, April 2, 2008

USC Pro Day Write Up: Part 1

by: Michael Steffes

Ok, so I am going to give you guys my thoughts and observations about the actual players at USC Pro Day. Originally, I recored "Path From the Draft", who were filming there, and planned to watch footage before writing. However, I reconsidered. Instead, I have turned on a baseball game, and I am going to write completely from my notes, so that you get MY opinion, uninfluenced by outsiders. It may be similar to what others have said around the web, and maybe not. I think this way it holds more value.

To check it out.....

To begin with, they fan experience at one of these things isn't the main concern. Not that it should be, but sitting in the bleachers, you could only see so much. My pictures are all from far away, but some of them are good, so I am going to have my lady, Photoshop expert that she is, clean them up and I will post them later. None of them of are people running however, because the scouts surround the running lane, which was in the middle of the field. They did announce the times though.

They did all the weight lifting and jumping inside Heritage Hall, which was not open for the people to see. However quickly the word spread through out the family section, where I was sitting, that Keith Rivers had jumped 42' in the vert. Apparently it was the highlight of the morning activities.

The first people to come out to the field were the long snapper and the punter. I won't bore you, but I thought both were quite good. The snappers name is Collins. He has some good velocity and accuracy, but he is a pretty small guy. Could be that all the other USC guys are monsters, but he just seemed kinda small. He ran the 40 though, so if you are interested, he ran 5.31 and then 5.2. The punter boomed several 70 yard punts, but didn't seem very consistent.

The 40 was first. I will mostly include 40 times as I am talking about players, but I will tell you that the first thing that woke everybody up, was Keith Rivers running a 4.5 in the first go round. I know it is a good, not great time, but for a linebacker his size, it was a site to see, and the whole crowd erupted when it was announced. The second big explosion came after Chuancey Washington's second run. He ran a 4.35. The days of hoping he is a 7th round project back are gone. He weighs 220 lbs, I was told, and he still ran a 4.3. He is built very similar to Jonathan Stewart. Washington could be a steal later in the draft.

One of the things I was really looking forward to seeing was the shuttle drills. This tends to highlight athleticism. However, something was going on. All the family members were pissed. Hardly anyone was able to complete the drill without slipping an falling at different times. It would seem they should have this thing figured out by now, but no one could plant and cut well, and thus they were all slipping when they tried to change directions. Fred Davis seemed to get frustrated and I am not sure he ever completed one. Chilo Rachel also had problems.

I got a pretty good look at all the positional drills except for the defensive backs. It was on the opposite side of the field from me, and the linebackers were working out at the same time. The positional drills that drew the most attention were the defensive line drills, which created a lot of good moments, and the linebackers which was an unbelievable atheletic display by both Keith Rivers and Thomas Williams. However, I think the the USC lineman, as a group, are all very solid players. I was impressed by how despite limited athletic talent, they were all very solid, fundamentally sound players. They defintely aren't fits for every teams systems, but they should all be capable of holding their own in the pros. Plus, Sam Baker looks like a lumberjack, he has a awesome beard!

In my opinion, the big winners today Keith Rivers, who almost assured he will be taken in the top half of round 1, and Chauncey Washington who seems to have assured himself of being selected. Probably a few rounds higher than was previously projected. I also really liked Thomas Williams. He is a linebacker who was kind of buried behind Rivers and the two first rounders next year, Maualuga and Cushing. He looked very good in the LB drills. He showed excellent ball skills for a defender He has an excellent build and he ran 4.7. My friend of the program says he will make a team next year just because he will be a special teams ace. That most certainly should grab the Hawks attention.

Unfortunately for him, Fred Davis is probably the big loser of the day. You all know that I like Fred Davis and really wanted him to be the shinning star today, but it just didn't happen for him. It is hard to believe someone who was so good in games just struggles during these work outs, but Davis didn't impress me in any way. He made some nice catches and only had one drop, but his 40's were still average at 4.64 and 4.7. Plus, I am just not sure he has any room to bulk up. His frame is pretty maxed out. Also, he didn't look nearly as impressive running routes to me today as he did on the combine footage. Sorry Fred, but you haven't convinced me. The tight end class, which once looked so promising, is starting to look pretty dreary.

Anyway, I this is already a lot. I will do a player by player write up in a little bit. Possibly post dinner. I still have a ton to cover.