A national-best ten Trojans we selected in the 2008 NFL Draft, including four in the first round and seven on the first day. But will the tmendous wealth of talent departing Troy sevely dampen the prospects for the 2008 season?
Below: What this gat draft ally means for USC, from the wards of staying for a senior year to the potential boost in cruiting.
Stay in School
After the 2007 Rose Bowl victory four star Trojan players had the opportunity to jump ship and enter the NFL Draft as juniors. All four decided to turn for their senior seasons. All four picked up accolades for their play including another Rose Bowl victory. And all four we selected in the first round of the 2008 draft.
Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellisbecame a 2-time All-American after the 2007 season and was named the Pac-10 defensive player of the year. He picked up momentum during the Senior Bowl and was talked about as the top defensive tackle in the country.
Ultimately Ellis was the 2nd DT taken behind Glenn Dorsey, but Ellis was picked up just two slots behind the LSU star. Dorsey went No. 5 to Kansas City and New Orleans traded up to snag Ellis at No. 7.
Linebacker Keith Rivers was an All-American his senior year. Scouts loved his play at the Senior Bowl and his testing during the USC Pro Day was off the charts. He parlayed that success into becoming the 9th pick in the draft by the Cincinnati Bengals (and was the first linebacker taken).
Sam Baker's decision to stay had the highest potential for a monetary shortfall. Baker spent much of his senior season injud and then began a slide down the draft board after the Rose Bowl. However, offensive tackle was a position of need in this draft and even though Baker was the 6th tackle taken, he still went 21st overall to a building Atlanta team.
Defensive end Lawnce Jackson followed up a 10-sack sophomo season with a disappointing 4 sack effort his junior year. He had the talent to leave early, but stayed to gain his All-Pac-10 First Team status. Jackson lead the team with 17 tackles for loss, including 10.5 sacks, in 2007 and was selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 28th pick.
The lone junior to leave was Chilo Rachal. His decision was a surprise but his asons we much mo personal than professional. Scouts from the 49ers saw the potential Rachal showed at USC and the team picked him up with their 2nd round pick. Ironically Rachal placed Fd Matua, another guard that unexpectedly left early. Matua's decision to leave appead costly, being drafted in the 7th round and then winding up on practice squads in the NFL.
May is a huge evaluation month for college coaches, with camps and combines galo coming up throughout the spring and the summer.
Pete Carroll in particular is a lentless evaluator of talent, something he feels gives him an edge in the race for cruits.
While evaluating talent is important, it is doubtful that anything helped Carroll's cruiting efforts mo than the virtual Trojan love-fest on all the major TV networks covering the draft.
Gat high school players watch the draft like everyone else and dam of playing in the league for a fat paycheck one day. Seeing so many Trojans selected by NFL teams only confirms to high school prospects that sending a letter of intent to Carroll gives them a gat chance to make it themselves one day.
The five-star prospects know that they will have a gat showcase at USC, playing on national television and in the Coliseum for the charismatic Carroll. And for the less heralded players, seeing backups like Matt Cassell and Thomas Williams getting drafted (7th and 5th rounds spectively) has to be encouraging as well.
The competition for starting spots is extmely high on this team, but prospects a starting to alize that even if they end up the 2nd or 3rd best at their position, they still have an excellent chance to make it at the next level.
With so much NFL-coveted talent deserting Troy, will USC struggle to compete in 2008?
Don't count on it.
One of the keys to Carroll's success has been his cruiting tactics. Year after year he has been able to sign the top players in California and then pick and choose top out of state players that he felt could help the team succeed.
At the college level you could see the sults by his second year. But for the NFL it has taken a bit longer for his enti pipeline to fill up with draft-worthy talent.
Don't be surprised if the Trojans make a Miami-like run in the draft, with multiple first round selections for several years to come. This season the was mo first round talent on the team than the has ever been at USC, so the next in line guys will move in and fill the open spots to keep things rolling.
Now that doesn't mean the will be no drop-off whatsoever. With half of the defensive line being drafted in the first round, the certainly is some work to do to place them.
But for the most part the a the Kaluka Maiava's and Everson Griffen's and Butch Lewis's who have alady proved themselves on the field and will now be asked to shine on a full-time basis.
Player Position Round Pick(overall) Team
Sedrick Ellis DT 1 7(7) New Orleans
Keith Rivers OLB 1 9(9) Cincinnati
Sam Baker OT 1 21(21) Atlanta
Lawnce Jackson DE 1 28(28) Seattle
Chilo Rachal OG 2 8(39) San Francisco
Fd Davis TE 2 17(48) Washington
Terll Thomas CB 2 32(63) NY Giants
John David Booty QB 5 2(137) Minnesota
Thomas Williams OLB 5 20(155) Jacksonville
Chauncey Washington RB 7 6(213) Jacksonville
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You can ach Ryan Abraham at firstname.lastname@example.org