Player News

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A coach told Bleacher Report's Matt Miller that USC QB Sam Darnold is "not at the same level" as Jared Goff or Carson Wentz.

The coach did say that Darnold was a better prospect than Mitch Trubisky, who went second-overall to the Bears in the 2017 draft. An NFL scout was much kinder towards the USC signal-caller. "Crystal clean off the field, he writes. "Smart, poised, tough, accurate. He might be the only one that could work in Cleveland because he won't let the pressure go to his head." The scout also compared him to former Cowboy Tony Romo. Darnold still is projected as the first-overall pick in most mocks, but he's far from the sure thing many projected him to be before the 2017 season started.
Feb 23 - 8:25 PM

Multiple outlets are reporting that USC sophomore RB Stephen Carr (back) will miss spring practice.

Carr (6'0/180) is set to take over as Trojans lead back in the wake of Ronald Jones' exit for the draft, but due to a herniated disc in his back, USC will have to lean on Vavae Malepeai and Aca’Cedric Ware in practice while he mends. There is no timetable for Carr's return to action at this juncture. As a true freshman, he rushed for 363 yards (5.6 YPC) and three touchdowns while adding another 188 yards on 17 receptions. He flashed on multiple occasions, but also dealt with a nagging foot injury which forced him to miss four games. USC boots up spring practice on March 6.
Source: 247Sports
Feb 23 - 11:26 AM

An anonymous NFC area scout said USC LB Uchenna Nwosu is "worth a pick on day three because we haven't really seen what he's going to be yet."

The scout mentioned Nwosu (6'3/240) only starting 2.5 years at USC as a potential issue. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein compares him to Browns LB Christian Kirksey and projects him as a 3rd-to-4th round pick. He "flashes the athletic traits and speed off the edge that teams will be looking for but the overall tape is very uneven." Zierlen also notes that if he tests well at the combine "teams may fall in love with his burst and eyeball a future role as a designated pass rusher."
Source: NFL.com
Feb 21 - 8:51 PM

USC QB Same Darnold possesses "off-the-charts intangibles," per conversations the MMQB's Albert Breer had with NFL personnel members.

Breer projects Darnold to be the Browns selection at No. 1, and teams' potential comfort with him due to those intangibles seems to be a major factor why. The quarterback hierarchy becomes more clear following the NFL Combine, with many trade talks happening over the course of that week. But as of now, Darnold appears the favorite for the No. 1 spot, as that same "intangibles" line has not been repeated for Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield.
Source: SI.com
Feb 21 - 9:05 AM

Optimum Scouting's Eric Galko writes that "mentally, instinctively, character-wise, and projection-wise, [USC QB Sam Darnold is] not that far off from Carson Wentz."

Galko believes that Darnold is "probably a full year away from showing the kind of player he really can be," but loves his upside, ranking him as his No. 1 quarterback in this draft class. Darnold and UCLA's Josh Rosen have emerged as the top two quarterbacks on most positional boards, with the order depending upon your outlet of reading. Rotoworld's Thor Nystrom throws a bit of a wrench in with his own rankings, slotting Rosen at No. 1, but then following up with Lamar Jackson while grading Darnold as his No. 3 signal-caller.
Feb 20 - 2:37 PM

CFB Film Room notes that Sam Darnold threw zero touchdowns and seven interceptions when under pressure in the pocket.

Darnold (6'4/220) completed 36-of-67 passes while facing pressure in the pocket, and averaged 8.6 yards-per-attempt, and that does not include throw aways. Compare that to Deshaun Watson -- a player that was criticized for turning the football over too much in his final year at Clemson -- who threw for six touchdowns and three picks under the same circumstances. There's no denying Darnold's arm strength, athleticism or upside, but that number sticks out like a sore thumb, and it's one that analytic teams are going to scrutinize until April.
Feb 19 - 3:30 PM

Rivals recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt writes that USC signed the top linebacker class in 2018.

Ohio State comes in second, while Penn State ranks third. The Trojans loaded up on linebacker in 2018, led by five-star signing Palaie Gaoteote. There's also Solomon Tuliaupupu, Raymond Scott, Eli’Jah Winston, and Kana’i Mauga joining this fall. "This USC class only signed a total of 18 prospects," writes Helmholdt, "but five of them were at the linebacker position and each rated at least four-stars." It wouldn't be a surprise if a few of these names -- particularly Gaoteote -- got a chance to play early in 2018.
Source: Rivals
Feb 19 - 2:40 PM

Washington State HC Mike Leach went on SiriusXM radio and stated that he believed both USC QB Sam Darnold and UCLA QB Josh Rosen should have stayed in school.

"I thought they both should have stayed," Leach said on SiriusXM NFL radio. "I think that Rosen measures out better in some areas, the ball he throws is real pretty, but to me it seems like Darnold elevates his team and I think those guys play around him a little better." According to most draft analysts, Darnold and Rosen are the top two quarterback prospects in the class, with Darnold having a chance to be the first-overall pick. The Pirate seems to feel they could have used another year of seasoning.
Feb 17 - 6:31 PM

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reports that the 2018 NFL Draft will be broadcast on FOX.

First time FOX will be airing the NFL's seven-round affair. They won't be doing it alone, as traditional draft stations ESPN and NFL Network will be tackling the event as per usual. According to Florio, FOX is actually expected to run a simulcast of the NFL Network's coverage, meaning that a new broadcast team is unlikely to be needed for the three-day airing. The draft will take place in Dallas from April 26-28.
Feb 14 - 4:30 PM

USC redshirt junior C Cole Smith has retired due to arthritis in his knees and a patellar tendon dislocation.

When USC initially announced Smith's retirement on social media, they cited his arthritis. The 6-foot-4, 280-pounder then added a little clarification, writing that while he did suffer from arthritis, the main impetus for his retirement was a dislocation of the patellar tendon in his kneecap. He's been gearing toward an exit from playing since the middle of the 2017 campaign. USC will continue to honor Smith's scholarship, though he will no longer count against the program's 85-man scholarship limit. Count this as a depth blow for the Trojans. Toa Lobendahn -- who opted to forego the NFL Draft for 2018 -- is set to replace the outgoing Nico Falah as starting center for HC Clay Helton during the coming campaign.
Feb 14 - 2:31 PM

USC announced a contract extension for DC Clancy Pendergast.

Pendergast earns the extension after spending two years on staff with the Trojans. The team has not disclosed specific details regarding the deal. USC has now shored up all three of HC Clay Helton, OC Tee Martin and DC Pendergast's contracts via extension this winter. The program is fresh off securing a top-five class on National Signing Day.
Feb 13 - 2:06 PM

USC announced a contract extension for OC Tee Martin.

While the Trojans did announce that Martin has garnered an extension, they did not provide either length or monetary details. The offensive coordinator will have his work cut out for him in 2018, as the team is looking to replace its top three offensive play-makers in QB Sam Darnold, RB Ronald Jones and WR Deontay Burnett (all of whom opted out for the draft). Martin has been a heavy name in rumors this winter, with Tennessee showing some interest during their coaching search and the Oakland Raiders twice interviewing him for the role of receivers coach under Jon Gruden. This extension to remain with USC should help settle the waters for at least the time being.
Feb 13 - 2:01 PM

USC indefinitely suspended sophomore WR Joseph Lewis following his arrest on a domestic violence charge on Monday.

The exact details of the events that led to the arrest have yet to surface, but Lewis is being charged with what an LAPD spokesman termed a 273.5 (a) PC charge. This charge is levied in assault cases where there is a noticeably visible injury on a spouse or cohabitant. It's a felony charge that carries with it up to four years jail time. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound sophomore -- a five-star recruit in the 2017 class -- has been released on bail and is scheduled to next appear in court on March 6, actually the first day of spring practice for the Trojans. Lewis played just a minor role for USC this past season but is likely in line for increased looks during the upcoming campaign, at least if he's able to find resolution in what's a serious legal case.
Source: CBS Sports
Feb 13 - 12:28 PM

Matt Waldman warns to not allow USC QB Sam Darnold's inconsistent mechanics to overshadow his impressive results.

As Waldman puts it, this is Darnold transcending his technical flaws. I "expect Darnold to have moments in games where his style will help him deliver plays within a rhythm that only a handful can," Waldman writes. The two have different styles in how they move and play the position, but this same sentiment could be said for Patrick Mahomes last draft season. Expecting perfect technique for a player is incorrect process, instead work around and with that style in order to push the offense ahead.
Feb 13 - 11:04 AM

According to NFL Draft Scout, Ronald Jones II had the third best fumble rate of any prospect in the class.

Jones ranks behind only Darrel Williams (358) and Demario Richard (238) with a fumble rate of 207.7. If you're curious what that number means, it means that he fumbled once for every 207.7 touches. Ball security is something scouts obviously want to see from tailbacks, and the fact that Jones not only possesses tremendous talent but the ability to hold onto the football bodes well for the former USC star. He currently projects as a Day 2 selection.
Feb 12 - 12:53 PM


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