On March 23rd, I was privileged to have a media credential and represent The Blue Stable at USC pro day. USC’s potential draftees participated in several drills, weight-room exercises, and speed tests in front of all 32 NFL teams. It was exciting to know the Colts were at the pro day, and if you saw my previous article, you would know there are a few prospects that I told you to keep an eye on at the pro day. This will be the first article of a two-article series about my thoughts on USC’s pro day. Part 1 is about the offensive lineman, and part 2 will be about the defensive players listed below.
Those prospects were Liam Jimmons, Jalen McKenzie (part 1), Drake Jackson, Issac Taylor-Stuart, Chris Steele, and Isaiah Pola-Mao (part 2). I chose this group of players because of the positions of need for the Colts. The Colts need at least one more corner with the departure of Rock Ya-Sin to Las Vegas. The Colts are also in need of a third safety after the departure of George Odum to San Francisco. Depth is significant to Chris Ballard, and it can easily be seen with the overall solid performance by the multiple 2nd string offensive linemen this past season. With the departure of Mark Glowinski, the depth of the Colts’ offensive line took a blow, and It would not be out of the question to draft multiple linemen this year.
- Liam Jimmons: As I mentioned previously, Jimmons has played both offensive linemen and defensive linemen while at USC. Knowing playing both sides of the ball is an advantage and a disadvantage. Jimmons has the advantage of having playing experience at both positions but has the disadvantage of not playing offensive line in college as much as other lineman prospects. Jimmons was a critical piece to USC’s offensive line (he was a starter all season), and he should garner attention from teams on day three or after the draft as an undrafted free agent. Jimmons is smaller than his counterpart McKenzie, as McKenzie has longer arms, a longer wingspan, bigger hands, and is 20 pounds heavier than Jimmons. Nonetheless, Jimmons could be a potential target as an undrafted free agent for Chris Ballard and the Colts to help strengthen the offensive line depth. While he should not be drafted as high as Zach Banner was, do not be surprised if Jimmons has interest from the Colts throughout the draft process. It is more likely that Jimmons lands elsewhere, but Ballard will be keeping tabs on him and the other USC prospects.
- Jalen McKenzie: McKenzie truly loves football, and it showed during the pro day. Alongside his teammate Jimmons, Mckenzie outperformed him in every drill or athletic metric except the 40-yard dash and the pro agility drill. He performed as if he had a chip on his shoulder, and he is an extremely hard worker; who is willing to give his all for the team that drafts him. I had the chance to interview him after he finished the pro day. I asked him about “his” versatility and how comfortable he would be if the team that drafts him; wanted him to change positions? McKenzie responded, “I’d be plenty comfortable; I’ve started games here (USC) and played two positions in the same game” … “It doesn’t matter to me what position I play… I’ve played every single spot in the offensive line”. McKenzie also said, “All that matters to me is that we won that game” (when talking about playing multiple positions in the same game). Mckenzie spoke about the importance of “The Trojan Spirit” and said, “you’re not supposed to blink here, ya know,” and it just really showed the greatness of McKenzie’s character. Throughout the whole interview, he gave thorough answers to every question. He illustrated his love for the game, teammates, and “The Trojan Spirit” and his willingness to constantly improve and adjust on the fly. Mckenzie’s high character, deep football background (Mckenzie has multiple family members with NFL playing experience and one with coaching/managerial experience), and his versatility /willingness to play anywhere; make him a great developmental offensive lineman for the NFL. While I was not able to confirm that McKenzie and the Colts have talked thus far; this is a more realistic fit for Chris Ballard to sign as an undrafted free agent.
Here is a quick interview question Mason had with one of the linemen, Jalen McKenzie: pic.twitter.com/WHULXOmyqj
— The Blue Stable (@TheBlue_Stable) March 29, 2022
Time will tell whether Chris Ballard and the Colts decide to sign either Jalen McKenzie or Liam Jimmons. No matter who signs Jimmons or McKenzie, I know they have the skill to be on an NFL roster, and I will be rooting for them all the way!
Here are the numbers for all the USC players who participated in the pro day.
Here are the all the results from USC’s Pro Day:
(Reminder: Drake London will hold his own workouts/testing on Apr. 5) pic.twitter.com/I5IAx1izGJ
— Ryan Kartje (@Ryan_Kartje) March 24, 2022