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USC players with upcoming NFL Draft decisions to make

With USC's 2023 season coming to a close, numerous Trojans will soon face decisions on whether to declare for the 2024 NFL Draft or return to school.

LOS ANGELES — USC Football’s 2023 regular season has now wrapped up. While the Trojans are still awaiting their bowl game destination, talk has already shifted to the 2024 NFL Draft and which players could potentially declare.

Let’s take a look at some Trojans with upcoming draft decisions to make.

Caleb Williams, Quarterback

Let’s start by getting the obvious one out of the way. The projected number one overall pick should he choose to enter the draft, it would take an absolutely stunning development for Williams to be back at USC next fall.

Of course, there is a history of USC quarterbacks projected as top picks electing to bypass the draft and stay in school for another year. Matt Leinart did so in 2004, as did Matt Barkley in 2011. But the odds of Williams following suit are quite slim.

Prediction: Declares for Draft

Marshawn Lloyd, Running Back

Although he has already spent four years in college, Lloyd has an additional year of eligibility due to redshirting in 2020. In his first season at USC, the South Carolina transfer was very good but not elite, rushing for 820 yards and nine touchdowns, but also losing several costly fumbles, including one that was returned for a touchdown against UCLA that essentially put the game out of reach for the Trojans.

Lloyd could potentially hear his name called should he enter the draft. Given the NFL’s lack of a running back market right now and the Trojans’ need at the position following the graduation of backfield mate Austin Jones, though, it would not be surprising to see Lloyd return to school as USC’s clear-cut number one back.

Prediction: Returns to USC

Tahj Washington, Wid Receiver

After transferring to USC from Memphis in 2021, Washington improved in each of his three years in the Cardinal and Gold. This season, he was the Trojans’ leading receiver, catching 52 passes for 963 yards and six touchdowns.

A fifth-year senior, Washington does have an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, it is highly unlikely that he will use it. The wideout should likely hear his name called sometime in the middle rounds of April’s draft.

Prediction: Declares for Draft

Brenden Rice, Wide Receiver

After spending his first two seasons of college at Colorado, Rice transferred to USC ahead of the 2022 season. After a modest first year on campus, Rice enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2023, catching 45 passes for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Like Washington, Rice has an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, he has already accepted his invite to the Senior Bowl, and will now presumably look to follow his famous father’s footsteps in the NFL.

Prediction: Declares for Draft

Jonah Monheim, Offensive Lineman

Outside of Williams, this might be the most important decision for the Trojans’ 2024 outlook. After being the young guy on an experienced USC offensive line in 2021 and 2022, Monheim emerged as a leader on a retooled unit during his redshirt junior campaign 2023. Despite and up-and-down season for the Trojans’ offensive line, Monheim continued to show that he has a future in the NFL.

If he were to declare for the 2024 draft, Monheim would likely be a mid-round pick. With another strong year on campus, however, he could potentially play himself into the first round conversation for 2025. Getting Monheim back would be huge boost for a unit that is already losing several starters to graduation, including sixth-year senior center Justin Dedich.

Prediction: Returns to USC

Jamil Muhammad, Rush End

A transfer from Georgia State, Muhammad impressed in his first season in the Cardinal and Gold, leading the Trojans with six sacks. He has already announced that he will return to USC for his final year of eligibility in 2024, and will be a key weapon that the Trojans’ new defensive coordinator will have at his disposal.

Prediction: Returns to USC (Already Announced)

Mason Cobb, Linebacker

After three seasons at Oklahoma State, Cobb transferred to USC for what most assumed would be his final year of college football. However, Cobb struggled at times during the 2023 campaign, most notably on an ugly missed tackle against UCLA that went viral for all of the wrong reasons.

Were he to depart school this offseason, Cobb would likely struggle to find a spot on an NFL roster. Expect him to return with the hope of bouncing back in 2024.

Prediction: Returns to USC

Max Williams, Safety

Williams’s USC journey has been and up-and-down one plagued by numerous injuries. While Williams is a talented player who has certainly had his moments, it is highly unlikely that he would hear his name called in April’s draft should he declare.

According to reports, however, Williams, who has already spent five years at USC, is ready to be done with college. He will most likely forego his final season of eligibility and look to pursue a professional career.

Prediction: Declares for Draft

Calen Bullock, Safety

Bullock’s decision might be the most interesting one of the entire bunch. After an All-American campaign in 2022 that saw him projected as a high draft pick entering his junior season, Bullock—much like the entire USC defense—struggled at times in 2023.

However, Bullock’s talent is too obvious for NFL scouts to ignore. While it is unlikely that he will go in the first round, the star safety will likely be a day two pick should he decide to enter the draft.

Prediction: Declares for Draft