USC 2012 Top NFL Draft Prospects


When you look back at USC football over the last decade, one word comes to mind: Powerhouse. The Trojans of Southern California have been a constant force in the college football world. Every year, they are expected to compete for a National Championship and most years they do. Greatness is in the Trojan blood. It starts with recruiting. USC has had some of the best recruiters and have greatly benefited from it. USC always brings in top 10 recruiting classes. They get the best and mold them into even better players. The USC Trojans have had 472 total players drafted, more then any other university. They have also had more 1st round draft choices (74) then any other university. Further, 162 Trojans have been selected to go to the Pro Bowl and there has been a Trojan in every Super Bowl except 2. In recent years, the USC Trojans have been lacking in top shelf draft prospects. USC’s lone 1st round draft pick was Tyron Smith, a tackle that went to the Dallas Cowboys. However, next year’s 1st round could feature quite a few players who don the cardinal and gold. Let’s take a look at some of the best prospects that USC has to offer.

QB Matt Barkley
NFL personnel men have been waiting to get their hands on Barkley since high school when he was the 2007 Gatorade Player of the Year as a Junior. He was the #1 overall prospect when he committed to USC and became the very first true freshman to start for the Trojans. This year, Barkley will be a Junior and it may be his last year playing for the Trojans before he takes his talents to the NFL. I have watched every game of Barkley since he became a Trojan and I am confident that he will be a top 5 pick whenever he decides to come out. Barkley has great poise in the pocket. He is great at stepping up, side stepping, and doing whatever is necessary to avoid the pass rush. He has an NFL caliber arm. Now, it isn’t the best arm, but he’s more then capable of making all the NFL throws. He has a good, compact throwing motion. He improved significantly from 09 to 10. He threw 11 more touchdowns and 2 less interceptions. He runs a pro style offense, is a great leader, and works hard. Now, Barkley is not perfect. He has been inconsistent with his accuracy during his time at SC. He completed 60 percent of his passes as a freshman and 62 as a sophomore. He will likely have a difficult time this season thanks to a very young, and injured o-line. Additionally, Barkley has been dinged up each of the two years he played at USC. A full, healthy year at USC will due him good or he might be labeled “fragile” when he comes out. Nevertheless, Barkley is an elite prospect who will be a franchise QB for some team whenever he comes out. He is a likely top 5 pick and with the offensive weapons that surround him at USC, he could challenge Andrew Luck for the #1 pick in 2012.

OT Matt Kalil
Kalil is a redshirt junior and is considered the best tackle prospect for the 2012 draft. He’s got great size coming in at 6 ft 7, 295 pounds. He uses his hands well and has good upper body strength. He also has good footwork. He has all the tools to be a starting left tackle in the NFL. Now, Kalil is not a perfect prospect. He would do well by following in the footsteps of former teammate Tyron Smith and bulking up. He needs to work on his pad level as he will lose leverage the longer a play continues. Matt is not the only player in his family to be a successful football player. His father played center in the NFL and his brother Ryan is an all pro center for the Carolina Panthers. Kalil has the potential to be a top 10 pick if he has a good year.

DE Nick Perry
So far, Nick Perry hasn’t lived up to expectations, but he still has time to prove he is a dominant pass rusher. Perry is a redshirt junior with big goals for the 2011 season. 15. Nick Perry wants to get more then 15 sacks this year. It sounds like a pipe dream considering he had just 4 last year, but do not underestimate him. Perry is unique specimen. He stands at 6 ft 3, 250 pounds and runs a 4.6 40 yard dash. He collected 9 sacks his freshman year, but was hampered by a lingering high ankle sprain in 2010. Perry’s unique blend of size and athleticism makes him a player to watch for this year. He could be the breakout player of the year if he is able to stay healthy. He’s a very quick player who uses his hands well. It’s hard to tell where his draft stock currently is. He has a ton of potential. If he breaks out this year, he could be a 1st round pick. Look out for Perry in 2011.

S TJ McDonald
Replacing Taylor Mays seemed to be nearly impossible. How do you replace such an intimidating presence in the Trojans secondary? Enter T.J. McDonald. McDonald stands at 6 ft 3, 205 pounds. He stepped in as a sophomore and did a fantastic job filling the void of Taylor Mays. McDonald is a heavy hitter himself. He accumulated 89 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 interceptions in 2010. He is a great run defender with good closing speed. He is not afraid to pop receivers. He has good instincts as he reacts well to screen passes. This off season, McDonald has worked on being a leader and toughening up is mind. The 20 year old junior has a lot of great football ahead of him. If he has a good year, he could be the first safety off the board in 2012.

RB Marc Tyler
Marc Tyler was a highly touted RB from Oaks Christian high school. His QB at Oaks was Jimmy Clausen. He was supposed to be a major force for the Trojans for years to come. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out the way we intend for them. This rings especially true for Mark. He suffered a broken leg while in high school and had to have a rod surgically placed in his leg causing him to redshirt the 07 season. He continued to suffer injuries during his time at SC up until last year. He finally became healthy and was given his shot. He did not disappoint. Tyler rushed for 913 yards and 9 touchdowns, impressive numbers for a guy who shared carries with 2 other backs. Tyler has a lot to prove this year and he already is missing time due to a hamstring injury. However, once he is healthy, expect him to make a significant contribution for the Trojans. He displays good speed and vision. He has a lot of potential, but the key for him is his health. I would project him as a mid round selection as of today, but that is certainly going to change between now and draft season.

Honorable Mention:
LB Chris Galippo
DT Christian Tupou
DT DaJohn Harris
DE Wes Horton
WR Brandon Carswell

All of the above players are draft prospects that could jump up draft boards, but they all have a lot to prove. Galippo lost his starting spot last year and will need a strong year to get back into good standing with NFL scouts. Tupou lost all of last year with a knee injury. DaJohn Harris and Wes Horton could break out this year after having shining moments last year, but both were hampered by injuries. Carswell is a guy to really look out for. He could play opposite of the phenomenal Robert Woods and he will have plenty of opportunities.

In conclusion, there are a lot of high quality draft prospects that USC has to offer. However, a lot of these great players could also return for their senior years. If this were to happen, you can go ahead and label the 2013 NFL Draft as the year of the Trojan. A USC draft class consisting of seniors Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil, Nick Perry, T.J. McDonald, DaJohn Harris, Wes Horton and juniors Robert Woods and Nickel Robey would be unbelievable. All of these players could be starters in the NFL and further prove that USC is still a power house program. USC had a down year last year, but don’t expect them to be down for much longer. USC is a team with a ton of NFL caliber talent and one that scouts will want to pay close attention to in the coming years.

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