April 25, 2010 in Sports

Trojans surprised by NFL draft fall

Gary Klein Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — USC players were on the field before the NFL draft concluded Saturday, but they were still talking about the fates of former teammates when an 81-play scrimmage was over.

“Everyone fell lower than we all expected,” senior cornerback Shareece Wright said.

Safety Taylor Mays’ slip to the second round, along with his critical comments aimed at former coach Pete Carroll, was just some of the fallout. Receiver Damian Williams was the only Trojan with eligibility remaining who was selected before the fourth round.

“We feel bad for guys like that that have another year to play and leave and go on the second or third day of the draft,” coach Lane Kiffin said.

Wright, however, was encouraged by what happened in Thursday’s first round, especially when Florida cornerback Joe Haden was selected seventh overall by the Cleveland Browns.

Four other cornerbacks were first-round picks.

“It just makes me want to work harder so I can be that guy who goes in the top 10,” said Wright, who is regarded as one of the Trojans’ top 2011 draft prospects.

Wright said he felt for Mays and Williams, who were passed over by Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks in favor of Texas defensive back Earl Thomas and Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate.

Wright is hoping for a healthy and productive season after missing most of the last two because of a neck injury in 2008 and academic ineligibility in 2009.

The draft, he said, would take care of itself.

“If you’re the best in the nation at your position, you’re going to get drafted before the rest of the people,” he said.

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