USC football players have a huge opportunity at 2024 NFL combine

The 2023 college football season was a disaster for USC, and there’s simply no getting around that reality. We all wanted something different. We all hoped this scenario would be avoided. Yet, it happened. That can’t be changed. Nothing can improve the way the 2023 season went down at USC. All that can be done is to learn from it and look forward to the future. The 2024 Trojans who were on the 2023 team will try to grow and develop. The players not returning to USC football, who will instead go to the NFL’s upcoming scouting combine, will try to make a firm and forceful statement: They are better than what they were in 2023. Last year was not the final and defining snapshot of their quality as football players.

Let’s look at each combine invitee from USC, summing up the stakes involved at the combine:

Christian Rolans Walace and Tahj Washington

Roland-Wallace was part of an underperforming secondary. Now that he won’t be coached by Donte Williams — who was himself an underperformer — Roland-Wallace can show that he is a coachable, responsive, explosive athlete who can add value to an NFL roster.

Washington could be a steal for an NFL team outside the top 50 of the draft. There are lots of quality receivers, so Washington will have to wait his turn, but USC delivers strong receivers to the NFL. Teams shouldn’t wait too long to snap up Washington. A good combine could make him a lot of money.

Solomon Byrd

Solomon Byrd wasn’t a great defensive lineman at USC — Bear Alexander deserves that distinction — but he made a number of highly significant plays the past two seasons. NFL evaluators will likely need to see evidence that Byrd is powerful enough to be a disruptor on a pro defensive line.

Brenden Rice

Can Brenden run routes the way his father did? Obviously, Jerry set the standard, but NFL teams will want to see if Brenden’s football IQ is substantial enough. His athletic traits are impressive. Precision in technique is something NFL teams will be looking for.

Calen Bullock

Calen Bullock needs to escape Donte Williams’ shadow at the combine. He was always regarded as one of the best defensive NFL draft prospects on the 2023 roster. Now he needs to prove his reactions and instincts are pro-worthy.

Jarrett Kingston

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kingston was part of an underperforming 2023 USC offensive line. The film from the 2023 season will not be that kind to him. Kingston needs a perception-changing combine. He has a lot of pressure on his back.

MarShawn Lloyd

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Lloyd was very good for the vast majority of his season, but he did commit some turnovers late in the season. Ball security is something NFL evaluators will want to see from Lloyd.

Caleb Williams

Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Williams had an injury to one of the fingers on his throwing hand last season. Many people feel that hurt his performance. Showing greater accuracy on intermediate and deep passes will be a priority for Williams, the presumptive top pick in the draft.

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire