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2017 NFL Draft Prospects: USC Trojans

USC Draft
The USC Trojans are sending a handful of prospects to the 2017 NFL Draft. Here are the names to look out for on draft night. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

There are many NCAA schools riddled with NFL talent on their rosters. Each player has the sparkle in his eye and the hope of hearing his name called in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 27th. The reality is, not everyone can be selected during the 2017 NFL draft. Today, I break down the NFL talent from the Univesity of Southern California.

The USC Trojans

The Trojans have twelve prospects that have a chance to hear their name called during the 2017 NFL draft. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each player.

Adoreé Jackson – CB/WR/PR/KR

Height: 5’10”
Weight: 185 lbs.

Adoreé Jackson is viewed as one of the most dynamic players in this draft not named Jabrill Peppers. He is a very interesting prospect because he can immediately impact the game in many facets, but where will he fit?

In college, Jackson started at cornerback and wide receiver. He also returned kicks and punts for the Trojans. Last season, he recorded five interceptions, a fumble recovery, and eleven passes broken up, while also scoring a touchdown as a receiver. Additionally, he returned two punts for touchdowns while averaging 15.8 yards per return. Jackson was just as impressive returning kickoffs as he took two back to the house and averaged 29.5 yards per return. Here is an example:

Scouts are falling in love with his seemingly effortless athleticism. He shows great pattern recognition, has extremely fluid hips, and incredible foot quickness. One AFC scout told NFL.com

“I didn’t expect him to have the year he did in coverage. I saw ball skills and coverage ability that I didn’t see last year. Those interceptions and return touchdowns will push him into the early second. That’s my guess.”

Coupling his return ability with his defense, and he becomes one intriguing prospect. Look for him to be selected early in the second round. Teams like the Los Angeles Rams (37th overall), the Los Angeles Chargers (38th overall), and the New Orleans Saints (42nd overall) could all use a boost at the cornerback and return man positions.

Player Comparison: DeAngelo Hall

Here are the highlights of his pro day.

JuJu Smith-Schuster – WR

Height: 6’1″
Weight: 215 lbs.

Although JuJu Smith-Schuster was hampered by injuries in 2016, he still managed to haul in 70 receptions for 914 yards and 10 touchdowns. Most people remember his performance from the Penn State Rose Bowl game where he had a season-high 133 yards on seven catches and a score. Need a refresher on who he is? Here are some of his best plays in 2016.

Smith-Schuster has a prototypical NFL wide receiver frame and sheds defenders well. He also has great strength and lateral quickness to beat weaker defenders. Unfortunately, he does not have the top-end speed scouts are looking for to take the top off a defense. Smith-Schuster also gets knocked for his route running. Here is a chart of his routes run and completion percentage from a season ago:

JuJu Smith-Schuster can start from day one as a WR2 for any team looking for depth at that position. His ceiling is extremely high and will need help from a veteran coach who can get him there. Smith-Schuster will get taken off the board likely in the middle/late 2nd round. Teams like the Miami Dolphins (54th overall), the Kansas City Chiefs (59th overall), and the Pittsburgh Steelers (62nd overall) all could benefit from drafting another big body receiver on the outside.

Player Comparison: Hakeem Nicks

Here are the highlights of his pro day.

The Other Trojans

Zach Banner (OG) – Early 4th round (114th overall) – Washington Redskins. 
Chad Wheeler (OT)- Early/Mid 4th round (120th overall) – Arizona Cardinals.
Justin Davis (RB) – Early 6th round (191st overall) – New York Jets.
Damien Mama (OG)  – Middle 6th round (197th overall) – Arizona Cardinals. 
Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (DT) – Early 7th round ( 228th overall) – Dallas Cowboys.
Leon McQuay III (SS) – Late 7th round (248th overall) – Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mitchell Hutchings (OLB) – Undrafted.
Taylor McNamara (TE) – Undrafted.
Jabari Ruffin (OLB) – Undrafted.
DeQuan Hampton (WR) – Undrafted.

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