Some time to think here now that the NFL Draft is in our rear-view mirror a bit. And it makes you realize just how tough a business this is.
Sure, USC had -- for good and bad -- four of the 253 players drafted. But considering everything that’s happened to a program from the NCAA’s attempt to destroy it to all the ways that USC cooperated by shooting itself in the foot the past five years, here’s what we -- and a lot of others -- can say.
*** Working through the numbers, realizing they don’t all agree in every detail, it looks like they do agree that USC still leads the nation in first-round and overall picks and considering that NCAA-mandated 30-scholarship deficit, that’s a heck of an accomplishment . . . Just Sayin’.
*** But more than the numbers jump out at us this year. How about the names, especially of those not drafted like Oregon’s Vernon Adams, Arizona State’s D.J. Foster, TCU’s Trevone Boykin, Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton, Utah punter Tom Hackett and Jared Norris, Washington’s Jaydon Mickens, Stanford’s Devon Cajuste and UCLA kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn. It wasn’t just USC . . Just Sayin’.
*** But when it comes to all those USC free agents, all we can say is that with more than 50 free agents on 2015 rosters, we would not be surprised if one or more of those were Trojans for 2016 . . . Just Sayin’.
*** The point it makes to us is that for the top players, a Su’a Cravens, Cody Kessler, Max Tuerk and Kevon Seymour, they can overcome the failings of schemes and coaching over the years with, for example, Cody’s brilliant junior season numbers that allowed the Browns’ Hue Jackson to see what he needs to see in a third-round pick who will have a chance to see the field as a rookie with only an unestablished Robert Griffin III ahead of Cody . . . Just Sayin’.
*** But for the guys who ended up falling to free agency, they just didn’t have the opportunity – or a Combine number like Seymour’s 4.39 forty time -- to make that kind of impact that will now have to come in camp . . . Just Sayin’.
*** When we look back at this year’s draft, we think that for right now, we’d far rather be in USC’s position, with just four players drafted, than UCLA, which lost eight including six three-year departees, after getting roasted by the Trojans this past season . . . Just Sayin’.
*** Because as much as we wish all of USC’s NFL hopefuls well, 2016 is all about Trojans football here and having as many guys back and looking much more hopefully to 2017 is the place we’d rather be in right now . . . Just Sayin’.
*** And as much of a crap shoot as a free agent making a roster can be, if he stays healthy, if they’ve gotten that foot fixed as he thinks they have, we really like Tre Madden’s chances in Seattle with Pete Carroll . . . Just Sayin’.
*** But it’s the draft picks – and how they got there – we want to take a look at now. And the so-called “experts” who were ranking them in contradictory ways that make no sense. One guy, CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler, had Cody, the most accurate quarterback in USC history, going undrafted, No 17 among quarterbacks, because he “lacked the arm strength to put the ball where he wants on a consistent basis.” How do these guys keep their jobs? . . . Just Sayin’.
*** Hopefully Brugler was listening when Browns director of football operations Sashi Brown talked about why they passed on a first-rounder that Cleveland could have picked up like Paxton Lynch or a hometown guy like Ohio State’s Cardale Jones or a homestate guy like Hinkley, Ohio’s Connor Cook and instead took Cody, of whom he says: “I would not want to sleep on at all if I were a quarterback wanting to be the starting quarterback of the Browns.” . . . Just Sayin’.
*** Here’s former USC assistant Hue Jackson, now the Browns head coach, who tutored the likes of Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton, describing Cody -- in terms seldom heard on the P: “Over my history, the guys who can complete the ball and throw the ball straight with accuracy and make great decisions that are intelligent that know how to lead football teams -- they've been successful. I've been very good at watching those things happen. This young man has uncanny ability to throw the ball with accuracy. He's very intelligent.'' . . . Just Sayin’.
*** All the turmoil at USC, all the coaching changes, the sanctions, were a plus for playing in Cleveland, it seems. Here’s more from Hue on Cody: "He's been in every kind of system you can think of. He's a grinder. He loves to work at the game. If people think you're not this top-of-the-round draft pick quarterback that maybe you don't have a chance to play in the National Football League. That's already been proven to be different, and I think he has the makeup that he's going to have a chance to ascend. I think you guys will admire how he throws the ball with quickness and how he throws it directly to people to give guys opportunities to make catches on the ball. If he can't do that, he can't play in the National Football League very long. He does that as well as anybody, in my opinion, in this draft." . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And then there’s this from Jackson, on the dreaded “arm strength” issue: "That's never been the deal for me. Do you have the characteristics that we feel are very important? He's everything that you look for in a quarterback. Working through our process, Cody Kessler was the guy for us." . . . Just Sayin’.
*** Kessler told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer he didn’t disagree with his coming in as an underdog. "I use that as fuel and motivation,'' he said of the big-name guys he was competing against. “I've played against [No. 1 overall pick] Jared [Goff] a couple of times. I know what I can do. I know I can make all the throws. I know that I can lead a team. I know I'll work as hard as or even harder than anyone in the building. I've always been an underdog. I come from Bakersfield (Calif.), which it's not known for a whole lot. I've worked for everything that I've got. That's kind of why I was so drawn to Cleveland. I love the fans and everything around it. It's a hard-working town. That's why it's a perfect fit for me.'' . . . Just Sayin’.
*** Down the road, Chargers GM Tom Telesco described the two things that will allow Tuerk to step in -- when his ACL surgery rehab is completed -- and compete for a starting job: “ . . . great intelligence . . . and great feet . . . and he’s from right up the road” in the OC . . . and “from a Power Five conference where he played against great people every week.” Telesco said Chargers doctors are pleased with Max’s rehab and the team is penciling him in as a possible starter because of his ability to get to the second level so important these days . . . Just Sayin’.
*** For Max, it was “a dream come true,” getting picked by a Chargers team he grew up watching play at exactly the same position and draft spot – No. 66 in the third round – as longtime Chargers center Nick Hardwick, who retired in 2014 after starting there since 2004 . . . Just Sayin’.
*** Su’a has already had an impact with the Redskins, going from the late Sean Taylor’s No. 21 at USC to Taylor’s rookie No. 36 with the Redskins since no one will wear Taylor’s 21 there. He’s saying Redskins’ defensive coordinator Joe Barry, who recruited him for USC when Su’a was just a sophomore, has already told him he’ll play right away as the dime linebacker who can cover and still defend the run. ESPN says he’ll be Washington’s version of Arizona safety Deone Bucannon, who will become an every-down player in future years in multiple packages . . . Just Sayin’.
*** Kevon Seymour closed out the Buffalo Bills’ draft in the sixth round at No. 218 and as the 15th USC player in history drafted by the Bills. He’s also the second Bills draft pick in the sixth round who ran a 4.39 forty with TCU wide receiver Kolby Listenbee. Who will win that match race, Kevon was asked: “We’ll see . . . that guy can move but I can run as well.” But the best thing about it, Kevon told BuffaloBills.com, was “getting back to playing with my guys – Nickell Robey and Robert Woods.” Said he’s watched the Bills a lot and that Nickell was both a “big brother to me . . . and a coach.” And then there’s the Bills DB coach, USC alum Tim McDonald, whose son, TJ, Kevon played with at USC . . . Just Sayin;
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