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College Football Rumors: USC Star Expected to Declare for NFL Draft After Hyundai Sun Bowl

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC junior wide receiver Robert Woods is expected to declare for the NFL draft following the Hyundai Sun Bowl and could be a low first round pick.

Woods boasts exceptional hands that may be the best of any receiver in the nation, but is more of a possession receiver at 6’1’’ and 190 pounds and lacks the elite top end speed that would have him drafted inside the top ten.

He does possess exceptional versatility and has lined up on the perimeter and in the slot during his three years at USC that will only enhance his draft value. He developed quite the rapport with Matt Barkley racking up more than 100 receptions a year ago for the Trojans when he emerged as one of the elite receivers in the country.

As a junior he was overshadowed by sophomore receiver Marqise Lee, who won the Biletnikoff award and finished in the top five of Heisman voting. Some may consider this season a bit of a disappointment after his numbers dropped across the board from 111 receptions to 73, yards dipped from 1292 to 813 and his touchdown receptions dropped from 15 to 11 as USC went 7-5 prior to their bowl game after starting as the No. 1 team in the nation.

I think Woods is smart to declare for the draft and had he returned he would be playing with an inexperienced quarterback in Max Wittek and would continue to take a backseat to Lee and see his stock drop even more. He needs to look no further than Barkley who came back for his senior season and saw his draft stock plummet after a rocky senior season that ended with a shoulder injury and will keep him from playing in the Sun Bowl

Woods leaves USC as the school’s all-time receptions leader and among the Pac 12 receivers of all time and while he is unlikely to crack the top half of the first round, I think he cracks the bottom third of the first round with his skill-set if he runs well at the combine and his pro day. The NFL draft advisory board has reportedly given Woods a second round grade.

Woods can be a very solid third receiver as a rookie and eventually could compete for a starting job on teams that are thinner at wide receiver and should be another in a long line of quality USC receivers to succeed in the NFL.

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Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” on Sportstownchicago.com airing Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.