LOS ANGELES - It’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon and over a hundred NFL coaches and scouts have descended on Los Angeles, a city with no NFL team, but stocked with plenty of NFL talent thanks to Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans.
The annual USC Pro Day event has blossomed into a who’s who of NFL personnel with Mike Singletary, Sean Payton and Brad Childress among those in attendance.
Wednesday’s showcase featured potential first-round draft picks Mark Sanchez, Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews as well as a handful of other talented NFL prospects.
“This is normal for us,” Pete Carroll said while scanning the field packed with scouts. “This is what we have hopefully created with the level of our players.
“The cool thing is our guys are comfortable here.”
It’s hard to imagine that anyone one could be comfortable during one of the most thorough and intense job interviews around, but the USC players embraced the pressure and improved their stock with strong showings.
“This is just another stepping stone to the next level, so we look forward to it and relish the opportunity,” Clay Matthews III said. “It’s just really fun to get out here with these guys one more time.”
Of the big three linebackers, Matthews had the most impressive day. The former walk-on looked fluid during the linebacker drills and ran a 4.59 forty-yard dash.
Matthews continues to climb draft boards and looks to have cemented his standing as a first rounder with his solid day.
“I have always believed in myself and believed that I could be in this position one day,” he said. “But to come from a being walk-on and a guy that wasn’t even rated before the season, to now being projected to hopefully a first round draft pick is humbling.”
Rey Maualuga is the most recognizable of the linebacker group with his long, flowing hair and highlight reel hits. However, after having his workout at the combine cut short due to a hamstring injury, he may have been the player with the most riding on his performance Wednesday.
“Of all the other linebackers, I had the most to prove,” Maualuga said. “Those guys went to the combine and did a tremendous job out there. All I did was the forty.”
Maualuga, who still isn’t quite 100%, opted to go through the on-field linebacker drills before running the forty-yard dash, which was clocked in the low 4.6 range.
“This whole month I had to prepare myself to come out here and be at the same level as the rest of these guys,” he said. “I gave everything that I got, whether it was a 100% or not, I felt I did good.”
The only player that outshined the linebackers on the day was quarterback Mark Sanchez, who looked terrific during his extended throwing workout.
“I threw the heck out of the ball,” Sanchez said. “I spun it really well.”
Sanchez opened eyes with an 80-plus pass workout, in which he had great zip on his passes and showed good mobility and accuracy while throwing on the run.
Overall, the USC prospects put on a tremendous display and you can be sure that at this time next year, Los Angeles will again be the top destination for NFL scouts.
“It was a good showing for the Trojans, just like every pro day,” Sanchez said.
Clay Matthews ran an impressive 4.59 forty-yard dash.
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