Mike Williams led things off for the Trojans, as was expected, but Mike fell a little further than many draft experts predicted as he landed at the #10 spot to the Detroit Lions. Most mock drafts had Mike going in the #7 slot to the Minnesota Vikings but for some reason the Vikings decided to select receiver Troy Williamson from South Carolina instead. I’m sure Troy is a fine football player but a talent like Mike doesn’t come along too often and those of us Trojan fans who saw what he did for two years at USC have no doubt what he is capable of at the professional level.
Even though the Lions had picked wide receivers in the past two first rounds, they were more than happy to get BMW and this was a quality selection that will pay off for them in the long run. "We ran a lot of scenarios and in all of those scenarios we didn't believe that Mike Williams would be sitting there,” said Lions GM Matt Millen to NFL.com.
Williams commented on being part of a unit that includes former first round choices Charles Rogers and Roy Williams.
"I'm just excited to be a part of that receiver group," Mike told NFL.com. "They have some big guys - guys that can stretch the field and everybody can do their thing. I'm just excited to be a part of that offense and be a part of what could possibly be a big time offense next season. I really don't know yet how I'll fit in because I haven't sat down and really looked at their offense and looked at what they do. What I do know is that both of those guys are kind of the faster guys, so If I'm that third guy that's in the slot or that guy that's on the weak side doing those things - I'm just excited to up there and identify what I can bring to this offense."
It was generally expected that the next two Trojans selected would be defensive tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson although the prevailing feeling was that Cody would likely be chosen ahead of his close friend and line-mate. The Philadelphia Eagles changed those thoughts, however, as they picked up Patterson with the next-to-last selection (#31) in the first round.
"It's wonderful," said Patterson. "I am very happy. I don't think things could be any better. This is a dream come true and I am just speechless about the whole thing. With the Eagles being a quality defense, our coach at USC made sure we watched film of them. We paid attention, because they had one of the best defensive lines."
Tom Heckert from the Eagles talked about what they saw in Patterson that warranted his first round status.
"I think his overall athletic ability and quickness," Heckert told NFL.com. "This guy is a special guy, he's a move guy. The knock on him was his height, but he makes up for it because he's so quick. I think his height kind of helps him a little bit with his leverage. The guy plays a million miles an hour, he just makes a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage and that's kind of what enticed us."
The Lions decided to stay with the Trojan theme when they chose to trade up in the 2nd round to grab Cody with the 37th pick. There is a connection between the Cody family and Detroit coach Steve Mariucci as the longtime Cody family priest presided over the wedding of Mariucci and his wife. When “Mooch” placed the call to Shaun at his draft day celebration in Beverly Hills it was clear that Cody was excited for the opportunity to move to Motown.
“It’s a great fit for me,” said Cody. “They had me up there to meet everybody beforehand and I’m fortunate that they thought enough of me to take a chance. I can’t wait to get up there and get to work. The fact that they also drafted Mike (Williams) is nice, we’ve had a pretty good streak at USC and a lot of that had to do with Mike and all the plays he made.”
Millen was equally excited about the choice.
"I thought that was an outstanding pick, to be honest with you. I thought what this kid would do for is give us great flexibility - inside and outside. He has great hands; he's a good pass rusher on the inside; he can get outside; he can play the left side strong, both tackles," adds Millen. "I was really pleased, obviously, because we went up to get him. We saw him dropping on the board - I am as excited about this pick as I was the first pick. I just think it helps us in a lot of fronts."
The most pleasant surprise of the day, as far as USC players were concerned, was the selection of linebacker Lofa Tatupu in the second round by the Seattle Seahawks (selection #45). There had been many who questioned the decision by Lofa to enter the draft early after his junior season when most mock drafts had him pegged as a 4th-5th round choice.
"I was hoping for a third round pick,” said Lofa to NFL.com. “I had no idea that Seattle thought so highly of me. I’m very, very happy with the result, and I can’t wait to get up there."
Tim Ruskell of the Seahawks talks about Lofa who follows in the footsteps of his father, Mosi, a long-time veteran of the NFL.
"Lofa Tatupu was the linebacker on the national championship team,” said Ruskell to NFL.com. “He’s a guy that brings intensity, he’s tough, he can run the defense, he’s a leader, he’s productive. Everything that was asked of him at USC, he did. He doesn’t have the greatest size, he doesn’t have the greatest speed, but he has a big heart, not unlike his dad, and we were just real happy and pleased that he was there when we moved up in the second to be able to get him.”
There were many eligible USC players as we headed into the second day of the draft so it was surprising that only one, QB Matt Cassel, was chosen (7th round by the New England Patriots). Cassel is an outstanding athlete, he was drafted last year by the Oakland A's in the MLB draft, who sat behind two Heisman Trophy winners during his Trojan career. He put on quite a show during the recent ProDay workouts at USC with a strong arm and impressive throwing session that obviously helped put him in a position to be selected by the Super Bowl champs.
"It's been a long process but I'm fortunate to have been able to work hard and put myself in this position," said Cassel in a conference call with the Patriots. "I think I move around pretty well and have got some good physical ability. We take pride at USC in our ability as quarterbacks to make checkdowns, to read our progressions and make adjustments, and I look forward to getting started on the field to show what I can do."
Several USC players will sign as free agents including All-American linebacker Matt Grootegoed (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), tight end Alex Holmes (Miami Dolphins), safety Jason Leach (San Diego Chargers), kicker Ryan Killeen (Detroit Lions), cornerback Kevin Arbet (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and offensive lineman John Drake (Miami Dolphins), tight end Gregg Guenther (tryout with Indianapolis Colts), corner Ronald Nunn, receiver Jason Mitchell (Jacksonville Jaguars), fullback Lee Webb (Jacksonville Jaguars) and safety Greg Farr.