Trojans in the NFL Combine

A look at the seven Trojans who will be at this week's NFL Scouting Combine.

Seven Trojans have been invited to the annual NFL Scouting Combine, which begins tomorrow in Indianapolis. In addition to more than 300 draft eligible juniors and seniors, coaching staffs, executives and scouts from the league's 32 teams will also be on hand. A large number of Scout staff will be there, in addition to more than 700 media members.

From Feb. 22-Feb. 28, these players will be required to have a hospital pre-exam, run a 40-yard dash, shuttles, participate in position skill drills, do media interviews and undergo psychological testing.

The schedule is split up by position groups for the most part. Offensive linemen, tight ends, and special teams players will have the earliest testing days. They leave Saturday, Feb. 25.

The next group will be the skill players. Quarterbacks, wideouts and running backs will have all the same testing from (Thursday) Feb. 23 through the 26th (Sunday).

Friday arrivals will be the defensive linemen and linebackers, who go finish their combine Monday. Finally, the defensive backs finish the week off, who will be tested Saturday through Tuesday.

Here is a brief overview of the seven USC players and what a good combine could mean for each one.

Rhett Ellison: The 6-5, 250-pound player will be the first Trojan put through the ringer this week. Ellison, a tight end/fullback/special teams connoisseur with NFL bloodlines, looks in great shape this offseason. While he didn't have a stat-shocking year last season, his knowledge of a pro-style offense is incredibly high. The redshirt senior's five years in the system will be a bonus for any team looking for a versatile player and quick learner. Ellison is one of the hardest workers a team will find. A lot of athletes say they are the first one at practice and the last one to leave; in 2011, Ellison was really the only who could say that day in and day out. He isn't a huge fan of the media, so his interviews are usually short and unenthusiastic. He may want to show some more personality when he talks to coaching staffs but as far as physical ability and IQ are concerned, Ellison is top notch.

Chris Galippo: The ever vocal middle linebacker also has five years in the Trojans' pro-style system. A redshirt senior from Corona (Calif.) powerhouse Servite High (fellow alum: Matt Kalil), Galippo has been plagued with a back injury much of his college career. He underwent back surgery in 2008 but spent time healing even as recent as spring 2011. He has been a key player on special teams for the Trojans, and that will be an interesting advantage to teams that might want an experienced tackler in kickoff coverage. Late last season he saw his starting role go to a true freshman, in Lamar Dawson. It is possible that the experience humbled Galippo. Coupled with a solid showing at the combine, Galippo might be swept up by a team late.

DaJohn Harris: Coming off an impressive performance at the East-West Shrine Game, Harris has been training for the NFL in Arizona the past month. Another redshirt senior, the defensive tackle is quick on his feet, a great pass disrupter and always brings constant pressure. He knows the game, has a prototypical lineman frame, and can compete at the next level.

Matt Kalil: Projected to be the second or third overall pick, Kalil is everything a team wants in a lineman. The size, the knowledge, the skill, the NFL bloodline; it's all there. There's not much else to say here except that if he can have a smidgen of the career his brother Ryan (the Carolina Panthers' starting center and franchise tag) has had, he'll be in great shape. The combine will be an opportunity for him to showcase his personality a bit to coaching staffs and to do some networking with executives and players.

Nick Perry: Perry's stock is rising, and it's events like the NFL Combine that will make coaches salivate and beg for the 6-3 250-pound defensive end. When you see him in person, Perry's stature is imposing, sure. But when you see him on field up close, it's like artwork. He's so much fun to watch. His work ethic and speed is off the charts. Look for him to make noise this week.

Christian Tupou: Tupou is the resilient, tough one that will knock your front teeth out before you realize he even threw a punch. The nose tackle and one of the Trojans' four captains was voted Most Inspirational after recovering from a knee injury. He realized once he couldn't do much with his body, he would have to with his voice. He's an incredible leader, teammate and player. A team might take a chance on Tupou because his off the field qualities are off the charts. He's the guy you want in the locker room when your team is down or in the weight room when your guys aren't motivated.

Marc Tyler: Tyler is perhaps the most interesting of the bunch. Known more for his TMZ appearances than his on the field production, Tyler is a capable power back that knows the game. His father Wendell Tyler was an All-Pro running back with the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. While his character issues will be a concern, a team that picks him up late could be pleasantly surprised with his physical abilities. He's absolutely tough, doesn't get phased by much and is a great blocker.

For the USC players who did not receive an invitation to the NFL Combine, they will still have an opportunity to showcase their abilities at USC's Pro Day on March 7.

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