Josh Kendall

NFL Combine preview: What USC players must prove

The NFL Scouting Combine starts Tuesday and runs through Monday in Indianapolis. A look at what the four Gamecocks representatives must prove this week.

Jerell Adams, TE: Looks great, must catch everything

Adams is going to get a lot of attention in Indianapolis. He’s got prototypical size at 6-foot-5 and 244 pounds, and he performed so well at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last month that scouts are wondering the same thing as USC fans: Why didn’t he make more plays for the Gamecocks? Adams caught 66 passes for 977 yards in four years, and he’ll be asked why it wasn’t more. If he can provide a good answer, he could be the surprise USC product of this year’s draft. His most important drills will be the on-field, pass-catching drills. He needs to catch almost everything.

Pharoh Cooper, WR: Needs to surprise with his 40 time

Cooper led the Gamecocks in receiving as a sophomore and junior despite the fact he was the defense’s top priority every weekend. NFL evaluators are impressed by his versatility and his reliability, but they wonder if he has the elite physical skills needed to be a No. 1 or 2 wide receiver. At 5-foot-11, 208 pounds, Cooper won’t stand out for his size, so he’ll need to post a good 40 time to make a big draft jump. He will impress in the interview room and in on-field drills, and could move high in the second round with a blazing 40 or an eye-popping shuttle run.

Brandon Shell, OT: Experience a blessing and a curse

Shell has the right pedigree. His uncle Art is an NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman. He has the right size – 6-foot-6, 325 pounds. And he has tons of experience, starting 47 games at tackle at South Carolina. However, all that experience will be a blessing and a curse for Shell during the evaluation process. Given all that film they have to watch, scouts will see inconsistency they won’t like from Shell and will ask him to explain it. He needs to arrive in Indianapolis in good shape and show an ability to get out in front of speed rushers consistently during on-field drills.

Brandon Wilds, RB: He’ll get questions about injuries

Wilds is the kind of player who could end up being a more productive back in the NFL than he was in college, or he could never see a regular season roster. This week will go a long way toward determining which of these it is. He doesn’t have any elite physical traits or eye-popping numbers, but he has good size, and can block and catch as well as run. Wilds will have to answer questions about the numerous injuries that kept him off the field. If he can assuage those fears and post an impressive 40-yard dash time, he would move from an undrafted free agent into the draft.

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