Draft yields mixed results for USC

Trojans have nine players drafted, but only offensive tackle Tyron Smith is selected in first round.

Coach Lane Kiffin often talked about a talent drain this past season, how things were different than during the glory years when USC went to seven consecutive BCS bowls and won seven consecutive Pac-10 championships.

He was proven right.

The Trojans dominated the NFL draft once again, but showed signs of decay, not that it will make fans feel any better about last season's 8-5 finish. USC accounted for nearly one-third of the 31 Pac-10 players selected, but had just one player selected in the first round and none in the second.

But compare that total to Oregon, which made the BCS championship game with just one player drafted, linebacker Casey Matthews. Stanford reached the BCS with four draft picks.

The Trojans' nine draft picks were tied with North Carolina for most by one school. Like USC, the Tar Heels went 8-5 last season, but were without most of their top players, including defensive end Robert Quinn, defensive tackle Marvin Austin and receiver Greg Little, for accepting extra benefits and other violations of NCAA bylaws, resulting in year-long suspensions.

It marked the fourth time in the past six years that the Trojans had the most players drafted.

Still, USC moved past intersectional rival Notre Dame with the most players drafted all-time, with 473 to the Irish's 467.

Offensive tackle Tyron Smith was the first Trojan selected, going No. 9 overall to the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys were never coy in their interest in the Morris Trophy winner as top offensive lineman in the Pac-10 this past season, with head coach Jason Garrett attending pro day last month on the USC campus.

Smith is expected to start immediately for the Cowboys, either at left or right tackle.

Another early entrant, defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, went next, drafted No. 77 overall in the third round to the Tennessee Titans. It marked the second straight year that the Titans selected a Trojan in the third round.

Last year the Titans picked wide receiver Damian Williams, also with the 77th overall selection.

Corner Shareece Wright was also selected in the third round, headed down the 5 to play for the San Diego Chargers, where he should immediately help the Chargers' special teams woes.

Wright isn't the only USC player staying on the West Coast. Linebacker Malcolm Smith will be reunited with former coach Pete Carroll in Seattle, while wide receiver David Ausberry was taken by the Oakland Raiders, each in the seventh round. Ronald Johnson went in the sixth to the San Francisco 49ers and new coach Jim Harbaugh, formerly of Stanford.

Other picked on the third and final day of the draft included tight end Jordan Cameron, who went in the fourth round to the Cleveland Browns, running back Allen Bradford to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round, and fullback Stanley Havili was selected in the seventh round by Philadelphia Eagles.

Havili was unable to work out for teams because of a chronic shoulder injury, but is a perfect fit for the Eagles' West Coast offense given his exceptional skills as a receiver.

The biggest Trojan snub was center Kris O'Dowd, who overcame an injury-plagued career to play well as a senior. He also tested well at the combine and pro day and was regarded as a day three selection.

O'Dowd wasn't the only prominent Pac-10 center that went undrafted, joined by Chase Beeler of Stanford, Jordan Holmes of Oregon, and Colin Baxter of Arizona.

For O'Dowd and others that weren't selected, including running back C.J. Gable and linebacker Michael Morgan, they are now left in limbo, as the lockout of players resumes Monday following an appellate court ruling that sided with owners.

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