Joseph Fauria, TE – Fauria is the top senior tight end prospect in the country. He has a massive frame standing almost 6’7″ tall and 260 pounds. Fauria presents a huge catching radius and does a good job catching the ball in tight areas. Although he needs to improve technique as a blocker, he has the tools to become an adequate one with proper coaching. Fauria isn’t a burner by any means but, he moves well enough for his size. He does struggle when trying to make precise cuts and movements, which makes him look a bit awkward. Right now he is at his best at attacking the seam and middle of the field. Fauria has good NFL bloodlines as well. His uncle is former Patriots TE Christian Fauria.
Datone Jones, DE- Jones has the ideal size and strength to be an NFL defensive end. He is one of the strongest players on the team and at 6’4″ 275 pounds, he can simply out muscle opposing linemen at times. Jones missed the whole 2010 season with a broken foot and recorded only 3.0 sacks in 2011. Now that he is two years removed from the injury and he has had more time to develop technique and pass rush moves, I am expecting big things out of Datone Jones this year.
Matt Barkley, QB – Barkley is the top player on my 2013 NFL Draft board. Barkley is a very accurate passer, who has improved his arm strength since he arrived at USC. He has also worked on making his delivery quicker, which has help his arm strength and release point. Barkley moves very well in the pocket and has the athleticism to escape pressure and throw accurately on the move. Where Barkley separates himself from others is his game management and leadership skills. He has shown that he can excel at reading defenses and altering plays based on coverages. Plays with a calmness and poise that shows his teammates he is always in control. Biggest knock on him will be questions about his height, but it hasn’t limited him yet and I doubt it will. Would have been a top pick in the 2012 draft, but decided to return to school to win a National Championship. High character kid, has all the makings of a franchise QB.
TJ McDonald, FS – A potential first round safety in the 2012 NFL Draft, McDonald decided to return for his Senior season. Has the ideal size and build for an NFL free safety with long arms and bulk. Very good range and speed, he can make plays from sideline to sideline and really closes on the ball. Willing and powerful tackler, tries to separate the ball from the ball-carrier on impact. My problem with McDonald is he often takes poor angles and is invisible at times during games. Son of former 49er DB Tim McDonald, will likely be a late first-early second round pick this year.
Khaled Holmes, OC – One of the top centers for the upcoming draft. Holmes has great size for a center and is one of the leaders of the USC football teams. He might be able to move to guard to maximize his athleticism. He gets sloppy with techinique, especially when run blocking. It’s tough to project centers to the NFL, but based on his mobility and leadership skills he will get a look. Not on the level of a Peter Konz or Maurkice Pouncey.
Wes Horton, DE – Looks the part and has all the physical abilities that one would look for from and NFL defensive end. The production hasn’t matched his ability as of yet and that’s disappointing. At 6’5″ 255 he could profile as a 3-4 OLB at the next level. I’m not sure what it is about USC defensive ends. They have all the god given ability in the world but, rarely produce the eye-popping pass rushing numbers you would expect. If Horton has a breakout year pass rush wise, similar to the way Nick Perry did as a junior, Horton could be as high as an early second round pick.
Star Lotulelei, DT – Star is the best defensive prospect in the PAC-12 and might be the best defensive prospect in the entire 2013 NFL draft. Lotulelei is enormous and moves like a linebacker. His combination of size, strength and quickness can’t be handled by a single blocker at the college level and requires a constant double team. Star plays with very good leverage and simply over powers linemen off the snap. While Star isn’t Ndamukong Suh, he is the closest thing I have seen to Haloti Ngata since.. Haloti Ngata. I would be very surprised if he isn’t picked in the top 6-7 next April.
Dave Kruger, DE – The brother of current Baltimore Ravens DE/OLB Paul Kruger, Dave profiles more as a 3-4 Defensive End at the next level. At 6’7″ 280 pounds Kruger has the size that it takes to play an end position. He doesn’t have the pass rush skills or the explosion that his brother does and therefore his draft stock is limited.
Desmond Trufant, CB – The brother of former top 10 NFL Draft pick Marcus Trufant, Desmond possesses good size and length for the position. Good ball skills, tied for the conference lead in passes defensed with Jordan Poyer in 2011. Trufant and the Washington pass defense as a whole had way to many breakdowns in coverage throughout 2011. In order for Trufant to become one of the top 4-5 CB in the 2012 draft he must prove he can eliminate the breakdowns and become more consistent.
Travis Long, DE/OLB – Long is the brother of former Outland Trophy winner Rien Long. Travis has been the best player on the Washington State defense for two years now and the most productive. Last season he produced 5.0 sacks to go with 14 tackles for a lost and another 42 tackles. While Long plays right defensive end in college, he might profile best as a 3-4 OLB in the pros.
Jeff Tuel, QB – Tuel missed most of last season with various injuries, but is poised to have a monster year in first year Head Coach Mike Leach’s offense. Tuel has only really had one full season as the starter, but will get every chance to prove he is a legitimate NFL QB this season.