Monday, December 17, 2007

Giving You Two 5's For a 10

The NFl is feeling a little shortchanged, and I can't blame them. The Saints spent a ton of money in the 2006 draft, and the league has spent two years publicizing Reggie Bush, but the college phenomenon isn't responding with the productivity to match the investment. There's no doubt in my mind that Reggie will eventually be worth the price of admission, but as far as gaining an instant 10 from number 5, you got cheated.

But no worries, I'm here to give you the proper exchange. You want a 10, so I'll give you two 5's, as in No. 55 of the USC Trojans. Keith Rivers will be the next great NFL defender, following in the footsteps of others to wear that number. Upon his arrival in Southern California, and making the request for the digits, he was informed by the Trojan AD that the recipient of that number has big shoes to fill, being that the number was worn by both Willie McGinest and Junior Seau during their collegiate careers. Well, Rivers did more than wear the number for four years, he gave it his own name and a new legacy for whoever wears that future number on their chest.

Everyone likes to focus on the offensive stars during the Pete Carroll reign. But giving it a realistic view, outside of Carson Palmer, is there another offensive player from USC that had an immediate impact in the NFL? They've had many talented receivers, but not one of them is an NFL star. They've had groups of running backs, but which is a pro bowler? Matt Leinart is injured, and isn't among the NFL elite passers. Matt Cassell is a back up QB in New England. From Hollywood stars to Sunday set extras, that's the offensive transformation.

If you're looking for the impact players, check the defensive side of the ball. Troy Polamalu and Lofa Tatupu join Carroll's class as pro bowlers. Almost immediately, Kenechi Udezi and Mike Patterson have secured starting roles on the defensive lines of the Eagles and Vikings. The offense gets the glory, but if you draft the defense you get the goods.

Though John David Booty will be the USC offensive headliner in the 2008 draft, the best offensive product is the tackle, Sam Baker. And still, the cream of the crop will be found in Keith Rivers, Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson, and Terrell Thomas, all on the defensive side.

And just as his predecessors before him, expect this new 55 to come alive at the higher level. The number will be available next year. Who's next?

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