Three USC Trojans were drafted over the weekend in the 2014 NFL Draft, but it’s never too early to start looking ahead to next year, as Troy will look to extend their 75-year consecutive draft streak that started in 1939.
After Texas failed to produce a draft selection this year, USC’s streak is now the nation’s longest (Notre Dame’s supplemental draft-aided streak of 76 years notwithstanding).
The 2015 NFL Draft will be an interesting one for USC players, considering that three Trojans –Dion Bailey, Xavier Grimble and George Uko– opted to leave college early for the draft, only to wind up going undrafted.
Along with Nickell Robey seeing the same fate a year ago, the decision making process on the jump to the pros could be impacted at USC going forward.
That said, there are a couple of quality juniors who could very well justify their transition to Sundays after just three years, if they have a strong 2014 season.
Here’s five Trojans who could wind up hearing their names called at next year’s NFL Draft:
Leonard Williams, DL
Of all of the Trojans, Williams is by far the most NFL ready as a junior, which makes him a good candidate to be yet another early entrant to the draft. Rich Cirminiello of Campus Insiders thinks Williams could be the No. 1 overall pick, while Charlie Campbell of Walter Football has Williams as the 7th overall pick in an early mock draft, lauding his “big-time skill set”.
Williams can play multiple positions along the defensive line and in his two years at USC has played in two drastically different schemes, beefing up his résumé for scouts.
Whether he be cast as a three-technique in the 4-3 or a defensive end in the 3-4, Williams has incredible acceleration, and strength to both shed blocks and wrangle in ball carriers.
As a sophomore, he had 73 tackles from the defensive end position, good for third amongst defensive linemen in the Pac-12, and by far the most from a USC lineman in recent history.
The draft buzz is promising for both Williams’s NFL career and the 2014 season at USC, but a lot can change. The draft is a year away and the recent slides of Marqise Lee and Matt Barkley from consensus a Top 5 pick to day two and three selections are prime examples of that, which could be a motivational factor.