The Bengals were among a host of NFL teams in California on Wednesday for the USC Trojans’ pro day.
There, Cincinnati coaches got an up-close look at offensive lineman Damien Mama, according to Tony Pauline. Weighing in at 6’3” and 334 pounds, Mama was a massive guard in college who relied heavily on his brute strength.
However, weight issues and work ethic concerns led to having to fight hard just to keep a starting job in 2016, as Lance Zierlein writes. That’s why Mama is someone projected to be drafted sometime on Day 3. Mama has plenty of college experience as he started four games in his freshman year. In 2015, he was an All-Pac 12 honorable mention after starting 13 of 14 games at left guard. He bumped up his accolades in 2016 after starting in 12 of 13 games and getting second-team all-conference recognition.
But Mama is not the Trojans’ top NFL prospect this year. That honor goes to defensive back Adoree' Jackson. A jack-of-all-trades, Jackson was a force on defense, got some run on offense and was one of the best returners in college football during his three-year career.
As a junior in 2016, Jackson won the Jim Thorpe Award and was named first-team All-Pac-12 and All-American after racking up five interceptions, 11 pass deflections and 55 total tackles. He also scored four times on returns, two coming on kickoffs and two on punts.
Jackson will likely play corner in the NFL, though safety is something he can play as well. Lance Zierlein actually compares Jackson to former Bengals corner Johnathan Joseph. He’s projected as a Day 2 pick who could go as early Round 2, so perhaps he’ll be in the discussion for the Bengals there.
Another Trojans playmaker the Bengals could consider is wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The dynamic pass-catcher erupted for 1,454 yards on 89 catches to go with 10 scores in 2015 as a true sophomore. But his numbers dipped to ‘just’ 70 grabs for 914 yards and 10 scores in 2016. He’s easily one of the best receivers in this draft, though not quite in the same class as guys like Corey Davis and Mike Williams. Still, he’d be a great get in Rounds 2-3 for whichever team drafts him.
One other Trojan the Bengals should be watching for is offensive lineman Zach Banner. The 6’8”, 353-pound big man played mostly at right tackle in college, but he could end up at guard in the pros. That’s why he’s projected as a Day 3 pick, but Banner is still someone the Bengals could use with needs at both tackle spots in addition to right guard.
Which of these guys intrigues you the most for Cincinnati?