Scouts converge for USC pro day

Four Trojans will be selected in the first round, and a couple of others likely interest the Packers. Beyond the big names, who will be worth watching at Wednesday's USC pro day?

After a lull in the action, the annual coast-to-coast barrage of pro days comes to a crescendo at USC on Wednesday.

The Trojans have four five-star prospects who will be first-round draft picks on April 25: Mark Sanchez,'s top-ranked quarterback; Rey Maualuga, Scout's top-ranked inside linebacker; and Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews, Scout's second- and third-ranked outside linebackers, respectively.

What will be on the minds of the Packers?

If Sanchez looks good in position drills, it increases the chances that both he and Georgia's Matthew Stafford will be selected in the top eight. That means another good prospect will be pushed down the ladder and be available for Green Bay at No. 9.

No. 9 might be a little early for Maualuga and inside linebacker doesn't appear to be a need, but if the Packers harbor serious concerns about Nick Barnett's injured knee and A.J. Hawk's not-so-stellar performance, then maybe he's on the radar. Maualuga, who has drawn comparisons to Baltimore Ravens great Ray Lewis, had a formal interview with the Packers at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

"I'm nowhere near Ray Lewis," Maualuga said at the Combine. "Ray Lewis is a respectable man who brings a lot to the table. I'm just a guy coming out of college and being compared to Ray Lewis, I've got a lot to prove, a lot to work on. I respect Ray Lewis. I'm way far away from his game."

Cushing and Matthews could be possibilities if the Packers either aren't enamored with who's available at No. 9 or simply don't want to pick up the hefty tab that comes with a top-10 selection. Finding an outside linebacker to play opposite Aaron Kampman likely will be a draft priority, and both should be taken somewhere between No. 15 and No. 25.

Some scouts prefer the hard-hitting, playmaking Cushing, who had the superior collegiate career but has been questioned about steroid use. Others prefer Matthews, who didn't even become a full-time starter until early in his senior season but has a big upside. The Packers talked to Matthews at the Combine, and Matthews told Packer Report that he enjoyed his time with general manager Ted Thompson, who was a teammate with Matthews' uncle, Hall of Fame tackle Bruce Matthews.

Of all of the Trojans' prospects, Fili Moala might be the most intriguing for the Packers. Moala, at 6-foot-4 and 303 pounds, has a body suited to be a 3-4 defensive end. He finished second on USC's star-studded defense in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (4.5). He's considered a late second-round or early third-round prospect.

"I think I'm versatile," Moala said at the Combine. "I can be a 3-4 defensive end, I can play a 3-technique in a 4-3. I can play the run, I can rush the passer. I can do a lot of different things, that's why a whole bunch of teams are interested in me."

An interesting player is Kyle Moore. At 6-foot-5 and 272 pounds, he doesn't have the bulk to be a 3-4 end and lacks the athleticism to be an outside linebacker. But given a year working with a professional training staff, he should be able to gain the additional 20 pounds necessary to play end. Moore, who had 9.5 tackles for loss and a team-high five sacks, is considered a fourth-round prospect.

A final prospect who could interest the Packers is 6-foot-5 receiver Patrick Turner. The Packers don't need a receiver, but Donald Driver can't be an elite player forever. Turner had 10 touchdown receptions last season. He's only a fourth- or fifth-round prospect, in part because other tall USC receivers (Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett) were big-time busts.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at

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