NFP Scouting Series: USC

For the rest of the summer, the National Football Post will be breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who could warrant the most interest from NFL teams in the 2011 draft.

Therefore, today we take a look at the USC Trojans.

Offense

RB Allen Bradford: No. 21 (5-11, 235)
A thick, well-proportioned back with good girth through both his upper and lower body. Does a great job not only dropping his pad level into contact but through the line of scrimmage as well, making himself small and not giving defenders much to wrap their arms around. Displays good power through his legs, churns his feet through contact and possesses the strength to consistently break tackles in the hole and accelerate into the open field. Exhibits an impressive first step for his size, gets up to speed quickly and really seems to surprise defenders at the second level with his ability to run. Isn’t a burner by any stretch, but showcases better speed at the second level than given credit for. Is patient picking his way through traffic, setting up blocks and displays a natural feel between the tackles. Exhibits good balance with the ability to stick his foot in the ground, square his shoulders quickly and attack up field. Displays nimble feet in tight areas and has the ability to side step defenders and fight for tough yards inside. But, doesn’t possess the kind of shiftiness to simply make a man miss if someone breaks down on him behind the line. Nevertheless, he loves to use his powerful stiff arm once he gets into the open field and makes it really tough for defenders to get into his body.

Has some real toughness to his game, as he lined up as a fullback as a freshman and looked like a promising lead blocker. Isn’t real comfortable in the pass game at this stage and hasn’t been much of a factor catching the ball out of the backfield. However, he has the size, power and coordination to certainly hold his own in blitz pick-up situations at the next level.

Impression: One of my favorite senior running backs in the entire class. Runs hard and exhibits good power, balance and vision inside, has the ability to wear down defenses and looks like a potential starter to me at the next level.

FB Stanley Havili: No. 31 (6-1, 230)
An athletic fullback who gets out of his stance quickly and has the ability to lead stretch plays, get out into the second level and consistently reach targets off his frame. But, isn’t quite as coordinated when asked to break down and hit a defender in space as he is made out to be, as he has a tendency to overrun/whiff on blocks from time to time in space. More of a finesse guy inside who does a nice job pressing the hole and quickly getting into his man. However, he simply lowers his shoulder into blocks, will stop pumping his legs and doesn’t look to finish. Seems content to simply seal defenders from the play and isn’t a dominant lead guy.

Now, he is a pretty gifted athlete for the position who showcases a real feel in the pass game. Looks natural flaring out of the backfield, plucking the football and creating for himself in the open field. Has some nimbleness as a runner as well with the power to break a tackle and accelerate into daylight. However, runs too upright inside when asked to carry the football and isn’t nearly as physical as you would expect from a back his size. Possesses the straight-line speed to reach the edge and has the body control and vision to cut against the grain and attack up field but isn’t anything dynamic with the ball in his hands.

Impression: A good athlete for the position who can wear a lot of hats for an NFL offense and definitely create some plays in the pass game. However, he isn’t a real impressive lead guy and isn’t real dynamic when asked to carry the football. Nevertheless, he has the ability to be a nice piece for an offense who can create some mismatches out of the backfield.

WR Ronald Johnson: No. 83 (6-0, 190)
An explosive receiver who gets up to speed quickly out of his stance and knows how to eat up a cornerback’s cushion. Does a nice job setting up his vertical routes, changing speeds and accelerating down the field. Quickly is able to locate the football and looks comfortable extending his arms to go high point the catch. Exhibits good body control when asked to adjust to the throw and showcases the coordination/concentration to come down with some tough grabs.

Has struggled to stay on the field over the past couple seasons due to injury, which as a result has stunted his growth as a route runner. Has a tendency to gear down out of any sharp, outward breaking route and fails to generate a good burst for himself out of his breaks. Also, he consistently chops his feet to gather himself when asked to break inside. Is at his best when asked to run more vertical routes down the field (flag, post, nine) where he does display some suddenness to his game, but even then there is still a definite roll out of his breaks.

Impression: He’s explosive off the line and has a lot of upside and untapped potential to his game, but needs to continue to develop to have a shot to play on the outside at the next level.

C Kristofer O’Dowd: No. 61 (6-5, 300)
A tall, long center who sits into his stance well and can snap and step quickly off the line. Does a nice job getting his hands up and long arms into blocks and initially can dictate on contact. Has the ability to consistently gain inside leverage in the run game and generate an initial push off the football. However, he allows himself to get too upright into blocks and fails to continue to drive defenders off the football. Showcases a good burst off the football and can quickly get into linemen off his frame and seal on perimeter runs. But, looks to lumber a bit anytime he’s exposed to space and will struggle to break down on contact. Uses his long arms to stick to linemen well on slide down blocks, but isn’t the type of athlete who can cleanly stay on to athletic defenders through the play.

Possesses a good first step off the snap in the pass game and uses his length well to keep linemen from initially getting into his frame and bullying him off the ball. Does a nice job instantly dropping his base and has the ability to anchor vs. even bigger defensive linemen. However, he isn’t overly fluid on contact, has a tendency to get overextended and upright in his lower half and will allow opposing linemen to disengage laterally from his initial punch. However, he does have the ability to redirect and get his hands back on defenders once they gain a step inside, keeping them from cleanly making their way up the field. But, he doesn’t strike me as a guy who can consistently slide his feet and stay on blocks through contact one-on-one at the next level. Also, he’s had a really tough time staying healthy during the course of his career and his medical report is something worth monitoring. He will play through pain, but there is a lot of tape of him out there where he just looks banged up.

Impression: I don’t think he’s the type of athlete or top-tier center prospect many are making him out to be. And I honestly can’t see him excelling in any area of the game at the next level. Looked more like a reserve type center to me.

Defense

OLB Malcolm Smith: No. 6 (6-1, 225)
A compact linebacker who exhibits a good feel reading his run keys, making his way through traffic and filling lanes inside. Isn’t a real physical striker and need s to do a better job bringing his legs as a tackler, but wraps up well in the hole after fighting his way off blocks. Did a better than anticipated job taking on linemen inside, keeps his base down, plays with natural leverage and possesses the athleticism to keep himself clean from blocks while working his way toward the football inside. However, he isn’t a real impressive open-field tackler, has a tendency to stop moving his feet too early and will fail to get into the ball carrier’s body. Lacks elite straight-line speed and isn’t a guy who can consistently make plays from the backside. But exhibits a good initial burst attacking the line downhill and does a nice job picking his spots and shooting gaps in pursuit of the ball carrier behind the line.

Exhibits natural range and body control when asked to drop off into coverage and looks very comfortable running with the tight end down the seam. Showcases the ability to cleanly change directions and get up to speed quickly when closing on the football laterally.

Impression: Exhibits above-average instincts inside vs. the run game and looks very comfortable in coverage. But, he lacks physicality as a tackler and doesn’t exhibit great closing range in pursuit. Looks more like a nickel backer to me.

OLB Michael Morgan: No. 17 (6-4, 220)
A long, lean outside linebacker who possesses the frame more so of a defensive back. Displays some natural athleticism in his drop with the ability to keep his eyes in the backfield. When his legs are under him he exhibits an impressive burst toward the football. However, he gets leggy out of his breaks and can be slow to redirect and change directions.

Showcases impressive sideline-to-sideline range with the length to consistently track ball carriers on perimeter runs. However, lacks any kind of power at the point of attack. Is very easily sealed on the outside vs. the interior run and isn’t a guy who can sit into his stance and take on blocks at the point of attack. Now, he does display some lateral quickness to slip blocks in tight areas, but for the most part, just takes himself out of plays by trying to run around linemen.

Impression: A long, lean-looking athlete with some obvious closing range, but honestly I don’t know where he can be successful in the NFL. He lacks the power/girth to hold up vs. the run game inside the box and isn’t fluid enough to make the move to strong safety. Best bet looks to be as a nickel backer/special teams ace, but I have questions about him being successful there as well.

CB Shareece Wright: No. 24 (6-0, 185)
Has had a tough time staying on the field over the past two seasons due to injury and academic problems. However, when he is on the field, the guy can be an impressive cover man. Showcases some physicality as a tackler and generates good power on contact. Could do a better job wrapping up, but loves to throw his body around.

And for a guy who hasn’t played much, displays a real savvy about his game vs. the pass game. Looks natural sitting into his stance and using his length to re-route receivers off the line and cleanly transitioning when asked to turn and run down the field. Isn’t overly physical in press coverage, but does a nice job getting his hands on receivers, quickly locating the football and tracking throws vertically down the field. Also, he looks very comfortable and instinctive in zone, keeping his eyes in the backfield, working off his man and quickly closing on the football.

Impression: Will need to be watched closely as a senior in 2010, but he has shown extremely well for himself in very limited opportunities and has been one of the better corners I have seen so far this year.

Follow me on twitter: @WesBunting

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