Scouting the Pac 10: USC

The Trojans provided the NFL with the first pick of the draft last April, yet a second player taken in the initial frame and still third taken during the draft's first day. Even after all that, this is still a very talented USC program which scouts will keep a close eye on.

Super sophomores Mike Williams and Winston Justice notwithstanding, there are several middle line prospects on offense. Coming into the 2002 season we had Keary Colbert highly ranked and thought him a better player than Kareem Kelly. Colbert defines the term "natural receiver"; his understanding of the position is outstanding as are the abilities to get separation, come open and make himself an available target for the quarterback. Colbert naturally comes back to the ball, extends and catches the pass with great fundamentals. His use of body positioning over the middle or on the sidelines to make the difficult grab in a crowd is equally as impressive. Colbert's pre-draft 40-time is the difference between a top 60 pick or making his way into the first round. Inside of Colbert, tight end Alex Holmes offers a solid pass catching threat that gives good effort blocking but is unspectacular in any aspect of the game. Holmes looks more like a third tight end than anything else. Several blockers will be watched in 2003 starting with tackle Jacob Rogers, an efficient lineman with top intelligence. Playing with solid fundamentals, Rogers makes great use of body positioning and blocking angles. He's not dominant in any single aspect, but he does more than enough to get the job done. Like his name, center Norm Katnik is cat-quick off the snap and explodes into his blocks, giving him the upper hand on defenders. Katnik lacks the dominant base and size, but he is a solid developmental prospect. Eric Torres is big and lumbering, yet displays solid footwork. He needs more repetition, but he must be watched. After we highly ranked Lenny Vandermade two years ago, the former center saw his play regress and was eventually relegated to a rotational system at guard. Vandermade seemed to be getting his game back on track last season and while he's a free agent type prospect, Vandermade has the abilities to make it at the next level.

SC's defensive front four is talented, deep and chock full of pro-prospects. Shaun Cody is an athletically gifted and explosive difference-maker up front when fully healthy. He combines quickness and speed, but he must add bulk and stay injury free.  If he does, the underclassmen is an early choice whenever he enters the draft. Mike Patterson's name is not mentioned enough and it's a shame. Like Cody, he explodes off the snap and possesses the first step blockers have difficulty adjusting to. Patterson plays low with leverage, can move laterally and makes a lot of plays up the field. His hand technique is sound and in time, as he matures physically, Patterson will be a top prospect. Kenechi Udeze is a speedy edge rusher with the ability to collapse from his end position and defend the run and the same can be said for Omar Nazel, who displays great skills changing direction and getting to the play. Nazel could end up playing over tackle in a three-four, though he has the frame to grow into a complete end. He is the only senior of the group. At linebacker, Melvin Simmons is a heady defender quick to key and diagnose, and rarely gets caught out of position. Though he plays bigger than his size, Simmons has poor computer numbers and will be downgraded accordingly. The Trojans have a trio of prospects in the defensive secondary that could make a big move up charts. Marcell Allmond is a nice sized, athletic corner who may be best off at safety. While Allmond can run with opponents almost anywhere on the field, he is slow turning back to the play and constantly face-guards. A physical defensive back, Allmond likes to mix it up, giving many the idea he would be better off at safety, facing the quarterback rather than turning back to the ball. Kevin Arbet was a developing corner until injury put him on the sidelines last year. Arbet has size, speed and cover skills. If he gets back on track to where he was in '01 prior to the injury, Arbet could make waves in April. Finally, keep an eye on junior college transfer Will Poole, the former Boston College corner. Poole had a terrific campaign as a sophomore at BC back in 2000, outplaying heralded teammate Lenny Walls. Leaving school the prior year due to academics, he played at Ventura CC for a season and is scheduled to enroll at USC for the fall semester. Though he has not "officially" worked out with the squad, our spies have told us he's looked very good thus far.

Scout NFL Network Top Stories