USC’s Michael Pittman, Austin Jackson get chance to impress at NFL Combine

Michael Castillo/Reign of Troy
Michael Castillo/Reign of Troy /

USC wide receiver Michael Pittman and offensive lineman Austin Jackson received invitations for the 2020 NFL Combine, each with the chance to shine.

LISTEN. Ep. 357 on Signing Day 2020

USC’s 2019 graduating class was particularly small, so it’s not a surprise the Trojans will have limited representation at the 2020 NFL Combine. At least the two with invites have more than enough juice to grab headlines.

Michael Pittman and Austin Jackson are the only two Trojans who will make the trip to Indianapolis, with the likes of John Houston, Christian Rector and Drew Richmond having to rely on USC’s Pro Day to make an impression on NFL scouts.

CHECK OUT: USC to hire top-level former KSU special teams coordinator

Pittman and Jackson are no-brainers, each with fairly high draft stock.

Jackson was an All-Pac-12 first-team lineman as a junior in 2019. After completing 25 career starts, he opted to leave USC for early entry into the draft.

The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder was also seen as a potential junior departure. He came to USC with prototypical NFL size and athleticism.

Here’s how Lance Zierlein of describes Jackson, who he likens to D.J. Humphries of the Arizona Cardinals:

"Early-entry tackle prospect who is raw but gifted and is likely to be coveted by a variety of teams, thanks to his true left tackle traits. Jackson has loads of athletic ability and play talent that is waiting to be developed and harvested. Inconsistent hand placement and footwork could be exploited early on if teams try and rush him into the starting lineup, but issues are correctable. He’s scheme-diverse with potential guard flexibility if he improves his strength. He could become an early starter but may offer a wider split between floor and ceiling than some teams might like."

Pittman opted to return for his senior campaign after a productive 2018 season and the choice paid off with a stellar 2019 finish. He was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and made several All-American second teams after snatching 101 receptions for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns. He led the Pac-12 in receptions per game.

Here are Zierlein’s thoughts on Pittman, who gets the comparison to Denver’s Courtland Sutton:

"Big, smart and reliable, Pittman falls into the “possession receiver” bin, but has top-notch ball skills that allow him to bully and best cornerbacks down the field. Improving release quickness against press will be an early focal point in an NFL camp, but his frame and physicality should create work space underneath even with close coverage. He lacks the speed and separation quickness teams covet from WR1 candidates, but he comes from NFL bloodlines and plays with a pro demeanor. He should be a productive plug-and-play talent at WR2 early in his career."

Both Jackson and Pittman bring excellent measurables to the table, so they should be capable of making waves at the Combine on the field. Best of all, each is an impressive human being who could make a team fall in love with them in the interview room.

Jackson’s decision to donate bone marrow to his sister in the summer of 2019, risking his playing prospects in the process, is just one demonstration of his top-level character.

Pittman won the Pop Warner College Football Award for his outstanding impact on the field, in the classroom and in the community. His community service has been well-documented while his personality brightens a room.

The 2020 NFL Combine will take place in Indianapolis from February 24 to March 1.

Okongwu Gets Well-Deserved Finalist Nod. Next