Senior Bowl week officially began on Monday. Six student-athletes from USC are participating in this year's version, which is 3 less than the year prior, but still the largest representation of any school. It's the NFL's biggest "job fair", with all 32 franchises present to scout future prospects. 5 defensive Trojans took the field on Tuesday morning, and the highest and lowest grades were not as most would expect.
The best Tuesday performances were turned in by Fili Moala and Kyle Moore. Scouts were impressed with Moala's ability to play anywhere along the defensive front. Starting the 2008 season as a possible first overall pick in the 2009 draft, his stock took a severe dive, with other Trojan defensive teammates becoming household names, with Moala quietly, and with little notice, battling in the trenches. Today, he showed the quickness and speed in pursuit that made him a preseason favorite, perhaps leading to a rise in that fallen stock.
Kyle Moore was equally impressive coming off the edge. Moore repeatedly beat his man to get to his target, and is a hybrid that can be used in the down position or standing. He also possesses a frame that can add more weight to increase his effectiveness as a pass rusher.
The stock of Clay Matthews has been soaring. This former walk-on is looking to position himself in the late first round or early second of the upcoming draft, and didn't ease up in his first professional audition. Matthews was agressive in rushing the passer, taking on tight ends, full backs, and defensive linemen, and winning most of those battles. That's no surprise to the Empire, since it's only a repeat of what he's done all year.
Brian Cushing first impressed Senior Bowl scouts with his physique. Walking in with the body of a professional football player, he then made his presence felt everywhere on the field, highlighted by a jarring hit put on a fellow South squad player.
One of the lowest grades of the day went to Rey Maualuga, with the buzz being that he appeared heavier than his playing weight and a bit out of shape. The initial impression led SI.com's Tony Pauline to add him to a list of first day sliders. Maualuga also didn't appear dominant in drills coming off the edge, but he was clearly out of position. He's a middle linebacker who is shot out of the cannon and brings the blitz from the center, but struggled to get to the quarterback or cone from the outside angles.
There's still plenty of auditioning to do before the weekend finale. By the time the game is kicking off, the majority of scouts will have already left Alabama. The practices are more important than the main event, so performing well in drills is the top priority.