After no selections on Day Two of the 2021 NFL Draft, six Trojans wait to hear their name called. Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, defensive linemen Marlon Tuipulotu and Jay Tufele and safety Talanoa Hufanga are likely to be selected, while cornerback Olaijah Griffin and wide receiver Tyler Vaughns could also be taken as well. Offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker went 14th overall on Thursday. This page will update throughout the night with any Trojan selections and other USC-related news.
Tufele was picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars at pick 106 to start out the fourth round. Tufele opted out all of last season to prepare for the draft, but Jacksonville felt comfortable selecting him. Tufele was a highly rated prospect out of high school and Jaguars head coach and former Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer heavily recruited him to his team.
Tufele instead chose USC and earned Freshman All-American and Second Team All Pac-12 honors in his first year. He recorded 23 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 12 games. In 2019, he recorded 42 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss.
Many draft analysts considered this pick a steal as Tufele was expected to be a third round pick. He will transition into a 3-4 defense and play inside for the Jaguars.
St. Brown was selected with the 112th pick by the Detroit Lions. St. Brown was one of the top prospects left for Day 3 of the NFL Draft. Brown will project to be a starter for a thin Lions receiving crew.
St. Brown played three seasons at USC and was one of the best wideouts in the program. He broke out as a sophomore with 77 receptions for 1,042 yards and six touchdowns. In six games in USC’s 2020 season, St. Brown had seven touchdown receptions.
St. Brown will play twice a season against his brother Equanimeous, who plays for the division rival Green Bay Packers.
NFL Network Draft expert Daniel Jeremiah said St. Brown is a great value pick and should be an immediate help to the Lions as one of the best slot receivers in the draft.
The San Francisco 49ers drafted Hufanga, the stud strong safety who was one of the leaders for USC in 2020, with their fifth round pick. Hufanga will stay in California and travel up north to join the Niners in the Bay Area.
Hufanga was the 2020 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He was also a consensus First Team All-American. He finished his Trojan career with 203 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions and four forced fumbles.
He impressed at USC’s Pro Day with a 10-foot-8 broad jump but did have a slower 40-yard dash time of 4.61, which may have been the reason he was available this late. ESPN’s Todd McShay pointed out Hufanga’s shoulder injury and other past injuries as another reason for his slide. However, McShay also called him an all-around playmaker and a really powerful tackler.
Hufanga notably spent his time with fellow USC Hall of Famer safety Troy Polamalu to prepare for the NFL Draft.
The Philadelphia Eagles picked Tuipulotu in the sixth round. Tuipulotu stepped up and anchored a strong defensive line corps even once Tufele opted out of the 2020 season. Tuipulotu will hope to learn from a very good defensive line room in Philadelphia.
Tuipulotu hit career highs this year and was an energizer for the Trojans on defense. In total, he finished his career with 104 tackles and two forced fumbles. He improved in 2020 despite not having Tufele by his side.
He was one of the many Trojans who slid down the draft board. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had him ranked as the third best defensive tackle in the entire draft, but he was the 11th DT taken. He impressed in the Senior Bowl and could develop into a great player. Scouts were also impressed by his character and strength.
No Trojans were selected in the final round of the NFL Draft, leaving Griffin and Vaughns as undrafted free agents. USC ends the draft with five selections, including four on Day 3.
It appears as though Griffin has found a team. Shortly after the conclusion of the draft, the cornerback posted a picture of Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs with the caption “Ready to win a super bowl! @buffalobills bills nation I’m ready to work!”
IndyStar Colts beat reporter Joel A. Erickson tweeted shortly after 7 p.m. that Indianapolis signed Vaughns to a $22,000 signing bonus as an undrafted free agent. Vaughns joins former USC receiver Michael Pittman Jr. in Indianapolis after the two played together for three years in college.