Robert Woods, Junior, Wide Receiver, Southern California
Robert Woods had a monster sophomore season. He tallied over 1200 yards and 15 touchdowns on 111 catches, in just 12 games because of the Trojans’ postseason ban. However, the best thing that happened to his draft stock had nothing to do with those numbers. It had nothing to do with his 40 time or bench press. It did not revolve around his route running or hands. It, in fact, was not directly related to any part of Woods’ game in the least. The best thing for Robert Woods’ prospects as a future pro was when his quarterback, Matt Barkley, decided to return to school. Barkley is a stud and, by association, so is Woods. You never really know how good a receiver will be in the NFL since so much is determined by his surroundings in college (scheme, quarterback, head coach, effort, etc.). What we do know now is that, barring injury, Woods is sure to have a tremendous season with Barkley throwing to him.
Woods is, of course, a good prospect in his own right, without the Heisman-level quarterback. This is not really the point. Last year showed us that good wide receivers are still fully dependent on their quarterback’s play. Just ask Alshon Jeffery who was thought of as a top pick prior to a season filled with quarterback benchings and dismissals. Although Woods has the talents, pedigree and on-field skills to excel as a wide receiver in the NFL, his ability to go in the top 10 of the draft is really thanks to Matt Barkley, as odd as it sounds.
12/8/2012 Update by Dan Levine:
Woods was one of the bright spots in USC’s season. He finished with 11 touchdowns and 813 yards. He happened to be outplayed by his award-winning compatriot, Marquise Lee. Still, Woods solidified himself as one of the best receivers in college football. His talents were truly on display in games like the one he had against Colorado. He racked up 132 yards and four touchdowns. NFL scouts will not ignore that. He should be an early round target in April.