USC Trojans: Marqise Lee

Lunch links: Hawaii Bowl blues

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
11:30
AM PT
Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.
GARDENA, Calif. -- The thrill hasn’t gotten old for Chuck Kimbell.

When former USC wide receiver Marqise Lee walked across the Radio City Music Hall stage last month after being selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second round of the NFL draft, his high school position coach cracked a wide smile from across the country, knowing yet another of his pupils had accomplished a lifelong goal.

Kimbell hardly had any time to bask in the moment, though. Just six picks after Lee came off the board, the Seattle Seahawks took former Colorado receiver Paul Richardson, another graduate of Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra, where Kimbell has coached for a dozen years.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Pac-12's lunch links

May, 23, 2014
May 23
11:30
AM PT
Happy Friday!
 

Pac-12's lunch links

May, 13, 2014
May 13
11:30
AM PT
How is it that the ultimate prize in the most macho sport invented is a piece of jewelry?

Pac-12 draft recap: Day 2

May, 10, 2014
May 10
12:40
AM PT
Here's a look at how the Pac-12 fared on Day 2 of the NFL draft.

Six players were selected in the second round and five in the third, giving the conference two-day total of 14. That trails the SEC (23) and Big Ten (16) but is tied with the ACC.

Round 2

OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA: Texans, No. 1 (33 overall)
Note: The first pick of the day was also the first offensive guard selected.

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington: Buccaneers, No. 6 (38)
Note: John Mackey Award winner will play for former Cal coach Jeff Tedford, Tampa Bay's new offensive coordinator.

WR Marqise Lee, USC: Jaguars, No. 7 (39)
Note: Lee was one of two receivers the Jaguars selected in the second round to pair with the No. 3 overall pick, QB Blake Bortles.

WR Paul Richardson, Colorado: Seahawks, No. 13 (45)
Note: Will give the Super Bowl champions another speedy weapon alongside Percy Harvin.

LB Trent Murphy, Stanford: Redskins, No. 15 (47)
Note: Murphy, the nation's sack leader, will get to remain at outside linebacker in Washington's 3-4 defense.

RB Bishop Sankey, Washington: Titans, No. 22 (54) Tennessee
Note: The first running back selected, Sankey will join former Washington quarterback Jake Locker in Tennessee.

Round 3

C Marcus Martin, USC: No. 6 (70) 49ers
Note: Martin will compete with Daniel Kilgore for the starting job in San Francisco.

DE Scott Crichton, Oregon State: No. 8 (72) Vikings
Note: Hopes to help his parents retire with money from his NFL career.

DT Will Sutton, Arizona State: No. 18 (82) Bears
Note: Two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year was projected by many to go much later.

WR Josh Huff, Oregon: No. 22 (86) Eagles
Note: One of two receivers who will join former Oregon coach Chip Kelly's team in Philly.

TE Richard Rodgers, Cal: No. 34 (98), Pakers
Note: Will catch passes from another Golden Bear, Aaron Rodgers (no relation).
Leading up to a game against Oregon State in Novenber 2012, Stanford coach David Shaw was asked to compare the Beavers’ receiving duo (Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks) with the one at USC (Marqise Lee and Robert Woods).

[+] EnlargeMarqise Lee
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonRecord-setting WR Marqise Lee could be off the draft board early in Round 2.
“Well, first of all, I don’t mind going on record as saying that I think Marqise Lee is the best college receiver that I’ve seen since I scouted Randy Moss,” Shaw said.

He's wasn't just throwing that out there either -- Shaw was a quality control coach for the Philadelphia Eagles during Moss’ final season at Marshall. And while the future Hall-of-Famer fell to No. 21 overall in the 1998 draft, his talent was never in question.

When Shaw made the comparison, it sounded about right. At the least, it would have been difficult to argue against. Lee was on his way to what were then Pac-12 records for receptions (118) and receiving yards (1,743). It was Lee, not former No. 1 overall pick Keyshawn Johnson, who was named USC’s first Fred Biletnikoff Award winner.

At the time, there was no question he would be a top-10 pick in the NFL draft. Maybe top 5.

Out of the first round? No chance.

And even as he struggled to meet the bar through nagging injuries, quarterback struggles and coaching turmoil in 2013 -- the Pac-12 blog didn’t name Lee one of the conference’s top-25 players for the 2013 season -- it was hard not to write it off as a season-long aberration. Aberration or not, it’s going to cost him a lot of money.

The first receiver picked in last year’s draft, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, received $12.8 million in guaranteed money after getting picked at No. 8 overall by St. Louis. The first receiver selected in the second round last year, Tennessee’s Justin Hunter, received $3.8 million guaranteed.

Feeling bad for someone who is about to make a life-changing amount of money to fulfill a childhood dream isn't the correct feeling, but, still, $9 million buys this house and leaves roughly $3.5 million. And that's just the minimum difference in guaranteed money.

Lee’s size came into question through the pre-draft evaluation process -- he measured at 6-foot, 192 pounds the combine -- but that didn’t hurt Austin, who measured 5-foot-8, 174 pounds. Austin ran a superior 40-time (4.34 to 4.52), but it would have been tough for a team to choose him over Lee.

Of course, none of this matters in the grand scheme of things. Lee should be one of the first players drafted in Friday’s second round, which means he’ll likely have the opportunity to contribute immediately. For a player with Lee talent, that should be enough.

Ten Pac-12 players to watch on Day 2 of the NFL draft

Pac-12 NFL draft primer

May, 8, 2014
May 8
1:00
PM PT
Despite coming off one of its strongest years in recent memory, the Pac-12 doesn’t figure to have a strong showing in the first round of the NFL draft.

Just three players — Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks, USC receiver Marqise Lee and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr — figure to hear their names called Thursday, and it's not a guarantee that all three will be picked in the first round.

In ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's final mock draft , it’s Cooks who comes off the board first, at No. 18 to the New York Jets. Both Lee (No. 21) and Barr (No. 25) follow shortly thereafter.

If that’s how it plays out, it would mark the first time since the NFL and AFL drafts combined in 1967 that the conference did not have a player drafted in top 15. Just three times in that 47-year period has the conference not had a top-10 pick, with Cal’s Marshawn Lynch to Buffalo at No. 12 in 2007 the most recent occurrence.

Mel Kiper Jr. doesn’t see that happening. In his final mock draft , Barr is off the board at No. 11 to Tennessee.

On Barr, Kiper writes:
I have Barr a bit lower on my prospect rankings than many others because I think there's a lot of development left for a player who was a fullback just two seasons ago. You can't deny his potential because not only is he a great athlete, he's also shown an ability to get to opposing quarterbacks with regularity

Kiper also predicts Cooks will land in Philadelphia, where he would join Chip Kelly's Eagles and join a receiver group that added former Stanford tight end Zach Ertz in the second round of last year's draft and needs to replace former Cal receiver DeSean Jackson.

Both Cooks and Lee are scheduled to be in New York for the draft, as well as USC center Marcus Martin, who regularly has been pegged as a likely Day 2 selection.

Pac-12's lunch links

May, 7, 2014
May 7
11:30
AM PT
The reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.

The NFL draft will begin on Thursday with a strong possibility that USC will add to its total of 77 first-round selections, more than any other school.

[+] EnlargeMarqise Lee
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsA healthy Marqise Lee could make a quick impact on an NFL team.
Wide receiver Marqise Lee is widely projected to be picked in the opening round, although there are mixed opinions on where he could land, and there are even rumblings that center Marcus Martin could be a surprise first-day pick. Both players will be in New York at the draft after Martin got an invite last week.

When this year’s draft process started there was a lot of thought that Lee was the second-ranked receiver on the board after Sammy Watkins but as the process has gone along Mike Evans has moved into that spot, with guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks even moving ahead of Lee on the most recent mock drafts for both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.

If those projections hold true, the reality is that Lee could have fallen a few spots -- both Kiper and McShay have him going No. 23 to the Kansas City Chiefs -- but he would still be solidly in the first round and going to a quality team. Many of the knocks about Lee have to do with sub-par numbers in 2013 and some critical drops. There is nothing that can be said about the drops but there were also so many things that Lee did right last year in a turbulent season that included two injuries and a mid-season coaching change. The guess here is that a healthy Lee will become an instant contributor at the next level.

When Martin originally declared for the draft there wasn’t a lot of fanfare about his decision but his stock has steadily risen during the process to the point that he is projected to be the first center off the board. One concern is the health of his knee, which was injured in the regular-season finale against UCLA, but his aggressive style of play and versatility have impressed the NFL evaluators. Martin started at both guard and center at USC so the ability to potentially play multiple positions is a valued trait with limited roster spots.

After Lee and Martin are selected there could be some time before the next USC player is picked. There is a group of players who were very productive at the college level, notably Dion Bailey, Devon Kennard, Kevin Graf, Morgan Breslin and George Uko, but it remains to be seen how they will fare in the NFL selection process.

Bailey is likely to be the first off the board from that group. At one point Kiper had him ranked as the No. 5 safety and one recent draft projection had him as a possibility to the Dallas Cowboys in the third round, but there are also rumblings that he could slide due to a lack of ideal measurables. His situation is somewhat reminiscent of former USC safety Sammy Knight, who went undrafted in 1997 yet went on to a 12-year NFL career and was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the savvy Bailey have a similar-type of longevity and impact, no matter where he is drafted.

One of the bigger surprises this year as far as Trojans are concerned is the lack of buzz surrounding Kennard and Breslin. After being moved around so much in his career, Kennard seemed to have finally found a home last season. The scouts love the way he uses his hands and he has an NFL pedigree with a father who played in the league but there are concerns about his instincts. With Breslin, there are worries about his ability to stay healthy and a limited body of work at USC, he was a junior college transfer who only played five games last year as a senior due to injury. In his 18 games for the Trojans, however, he had 17.5 sacks, which would seem to indicate the ability to rush the passer, a skill which is highly valued in the NFL.

Graf was a three-year starter at right tackle and the scouts like his straight-line blocking but they wanted to test his athleticism in the draft process. Uko is a big body who is quick off the ball, he may not end up a high pick but he should get a chance to make a roster.

It appears as if the most likely route for Silas Redd, Xavier Grimble, John Martinez and Demetrius Wright would be as undrafted free agents.

USC's fab five in NFL draft 

May, 5, 2014
May 5
9:00
AM PT
LOS ANGELES – When the “Fab 5” label is used, it generally refers to the 1991 Michigan basketball recruiting class that included Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Juwan Howard and Ray Jackson.

However, when it comes to USC football history -- specifically the NFL draft -- the storied Trojans have their own version of the Fab 5, which is the number of former members of the Cardinal and Gold who were the overall No. 1 selection in pro football’s ballyhooed offseason extravaganza.

This week's NFL draft from New York's Radio City Music Hall won’t feature a Trojans No. 1 overall selection, but it figures there were be at least a couple of players from this past season who will be selected. It is expected that wide receiver Marqise Lee and center Marcus Martin will be picked in the early rounds.

For those that think they have the answers to this USC draft trivia question, and for those that can maybe name one or two, here is the Fab 5 of Trojans NFL draft picks, those who were selected No. 1 overall:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

LOS ANGELES -- Recently I was with my significant other, and she endorsed the idea of taking in Kevin Costner’s latest sports flick, “Draft Day,” a story that revolves around pro football’s version of selective service.

Even ESPN’s Chris Berman and Jon Gruden as well as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were part of the cast just to add a sense of realism to the whole affair. The flick had its moments of fun and fantasy and offered a glimpse of the cold, cruel world of life inside the NFL’s biggest meat market spectacular.

As the film progressed, my significant other wanted to know if the events on the screen remotely resembled those in real life. After I assured her that they did, she became even more fascinated and promptly decided she should call audibles on how the plot would evolve.

Well, the other day I brought up to my new draftnik the Costner flick we had seen and pointed out a real-life situation as it applies to Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Pac-12's lunch links

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
2:30
PM PT
Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping its dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.
 
The NFL draft is drawing near, so that means more mock drafts -- as in Mel Kiper and Todd McShay mock drafts, take five.

As far as the Pac-12 goes in the first round, both Kiper and McShay are not only in agreement the Pac-12 won't have much impact, they also agree on how that impact will look.

Kiper's mock draft has Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks as the first conference player off the board at No. 18 to the New York Jets. He writes:
I had Cooks slotted here previously and am not changing it on this update. He's an exceptional athlete, both quick and fast, with the ability to eat up space, then run past defenders and also outmaneuver them underneath. That makes him precisely the kind of matchup the Jets need to add to the passing game. If Mike Vick ends up starting, Cooks is the kind of option they would love to have because of his ability to create space. I know New York could go elsewhere here and count on the option of a good pass-catcher later on, but unless there's a cornerback they love at this spot, I like this fit.

Guess what? McShay has Cooks also leading the Pac-12 in the same spot.

In fact, both Kiper and McShay project just three Pac-12 players getting selected in the first round and each in the same spot. They both have USC WR Marqise Lee going 23rd to the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers taking UCLA OLB Anthony Barr at No. 25.

Writes McShay on Barr:
The Chiefs could look to trade back here to get back the second-rounder they used to acquire Alex Smith last year. But if they stay here, a wide receiver makes sense given that it is one of the biggest needs on the roster. Lee doesn't have the timed speed of some of the other receivers in this class, and he had some issues with drops in 2013, but he has excellent fluidity as a route-runner and is faster on the field than his 40 time would indicate.

While the Pac-12 apparently doesn't have that much first-round talent, it will get hit hard in the next two rounds, at least according to Kiper's list of his top-100 players, which includes 15 from the conference.
Before Nelson Agholor walked up the Coliseum tunnel on Saturday following USC’s spring game -- which marked the conclusion of five weeks of practice sessions under a new coaching regime led by Steve Sarkisian -- the junior wide receiver took a moment to reflect.

[+] EnlargeNelson Agholor
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsUSC wideout Nelson Agholor is hoping to take the next step in 2014 after finishing last season with 56 catches for 918 yards and six touchdowns.
“This spring wasn’t just about today,” he said, “it was about 15 practices that we got to get better. So, for me, I got better every practice that I had a chance to practice, whether it was weightlifting, field work ... it didn’t matter. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity.”

Few took more advantage of that opportunity than Agholor. Described as a “gym rat” by USC wide receivers coach Tee Martin for the tireless work ethic that Agholor has put on display throughout his time on campus, the dynamic athlete made highlight play after highlight play, standing out as arguably the most consistent performer of the entire slate of workouts.

It was a case of an already proven player taking his game to another level, and according to Agholor, it was his attention to detail that made the difference.

“I felt like I definitely fine-tuned my fundamentals, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Agholor, who made the trek west to USC from Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep as member of the Trojans’ signing haul of 2012. “It’s all about getting the fundamentals back under you, controlling your effort, and practicing with great concentration.”

Martin was anything but surprised by what he saw out of his star pupil. After all, Agholor showed glimpses of what he was capable of last fall, when, with Marqise Lee hobbled during a portion of the season due to injury, he was leaned upon heavily. Agholor responded by catching 56 passes for a team-best 918 yards and six touchdowns, while developing into one of the nation’s most dangerous punt returners.

“You started seeing it last year during the season when he started really taking on that role of, ‘Call my number. I want to be the guy,'" Martin said. “He’s a guy that works hard and he wants to be that guy. I like his attitude and he got a lot better this spring.”

Of course, Agholor figures to have the added pressure heaped upon his shoulders that will come with being expected to follow in the footsteps of Robert Woods, USC’s all-time leading receiver, and Lee, the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner, as the next great Trojans receiver.

After putting in the time and effort, it’s a role that Martin believes Agholor is more than prepared to take on.

“I think he’s ready for it,” Martin said. “I think that he came to USC for that. If you go back and look at his signing day interview, he said that this day would be here for him today, and he’s worked for it. So I’m happy for him. You know, he’s had Robert Woods to learn from, he’s had Marqise Lee to learn from, and now it’s his turn.”

Unlike Woods and Lee, however, Agholor’s moment in the sun will come at a time when USC will showcase a new up-tempo, no-huddle offense put in place by Sarkisian. Agholor is encouraged by the strides that he, as well as his teammates, made within the system during spring drills.

“I’m very excited because this is an offense that’s really going to show off all of our weapons -- all of our receivers, our tailbacks, our tight ends,” he said. “We’re going to have guys making plays all over the field.”

Before USC’s opener against Fresno State on Aug. 30, Agholor has the long offseason ahead of him, and he’s ready to begin what he expects to be a demanding training regimen with Trojans strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis and staff.

“This summer is a great opportunity for us,” Agholor said. “We’re going to get a chance to get a whole summer with our new strength coaches. We had a wonderful spring with them, now we get the summer with them to develop our bodies, and then we’re going to do a lot of fieldwork and stuff like that. It’s going to be good for us.”

With his mindset focused in the right direction, all of the pieces appear to be in place for Agholor to fulfill every expectation thrown his way.

“He’s someone that we know is dependable, and he’s going to come through for us,” Martin said. “I look forward to seeing what his fall camp will be like, and what the season will be like for him.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 11/22