Football’s future: Jeff Byers

Height: 6’3
Weight: 290
Position: Offensive Line
Projection: Round 2

Jeff Byers is the most experienced interior lineman of the 2010 draft class. After six years in the program, and blocking for schemes drawn up by four different offensive coordinators, the 24-year old is finally prepared to take his talent to the next level.

Byers left Fort Collins Colorado in 2004 as the No. 1 offensive line prospect in the country. A rash of injuries impeded early expectations, causing him several times to watch others perform in his place. In the absence of entering the Southern California program and commanding one position, versatility may be the greatest reward that came with patience.

It was anticipated that Byers would eventually become the Trojans starting center for years to come, but often used as a plug-in player to combat injuries suffered by teammates, he mastered many positions along the offensive front. He saw field time as a backup center in his freshman year, but his first four starts came as USC’s left guard. Hip surgery forced a redshirt in 2005, followed by a back sprain that resulted in losing the entire 2006 season. Byers finally completed a full season in 2007, starting at left guard, but by now the once heralded high school phenom had become dwarfed by an arsenal of USC line talent.

In 2008, he played in the shadow of Kris O’Dowd, who became the first freshman to start at center in USC’s long and illustrious history. Byers was designated to resume play at left guard, though he also had opportunities at center. He made the most of his opportunity this past season, taking advantage of the unfortunate injury and limited amount of playing time by O’Dowd, spending greater part of the season playing in the middle, the position he was originally recruited to play.

Jeff Byers is being projected as both a guard and center for this year’s draft. There are some believing he can also play tackle, but I think he lacks the foot speed to be successful in protecting a quarterback’s blindside. In Today’s NFL, quarterback protection is first and foremost, which is why tackles project higher than guards and centers. Byers performed brilliantly in the Senior Bowl, and he still has the upcoming combine remaining to elevate himself on the draft ladder. As you can see on the list below, the second round has been the area most favorable for plucking Trojan offensive linemen in the NFL draft.

Year Player Position Team Draft round
2004 Jacob Rogers OT Dallas Cowboys 2 (pick 52)
2006 Winston Justice OT Philadelphia Eagles 2 (pick 39)
2006 Deuce Lutui OG Arizona Cardinals 2 (pick 41)
2007 Ryan Kalil C Carolina Panthers 2 (pick 59)
2008 Sam Baker OT Atlanta Falcons 1 (pick 21)
2008 Chilo Rachal OG San Francisco 49ers 2 (pick 39)
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~ by Anthony on February 8, 2010.

One Response to “Football’s future: Jeff Byers”

  1. He is 24

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