UCLA Football Notes - Combine Wrap Up and Looking Ahead

The past and future of UCLA Football are always moving. - Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

A look back at the NFL Combine and a look ahead to some upcoming events in UCLA Football.

Football never sleeps.

The NFL Combine in Indianapolis wraps up today but with only defensive backs participating today, all 5 of the Bruin participants are done and they can now look forward to UCLA's Pro Day and then the draft in May.  IE Angel did a great job with the open thread and updated comments and tasser10 did a great mid-combine recap of the NFL Combine, so there really isn't much to add today.   Here are the final numbers for the Bruins for the 5 events (blank cell indicates the player did not participate in that event).

player height weight (lb) 40 yd (sec) vertical (in) Bench press (reps) shuttle (sec) cone (sec)
Anthony Barr 6-5 255 4.66 34.5 15 4.19 6.82
Shaquelle Evans 6-1 213 4.51 34.5 13 4.21 7.07
Cassius Marsh 6-4 252 4.89 32 14
Xavier Su'a-Filo 6-4 307 5.04 25 25 4.44 7.60
Jordan Zumwalt 6-4 235 4.76 33

By all accounts, Xavier Su'a-Filo is the Bruin who improved his status the most.  He entered the Combine looking at something around the third round, but leaves the combine considered by some as the top guard in the draft.   Scouts were impressed by his speed (which is mostly irrelevant for a lineman) and his quickness in the agility drills, and also with his interview.  Of course, any Bruin who has ever heard XSF interviewed knows how well spoken and intelligent he is.  Like all linemen, right?

On the other end, I really expected Anthony Barr to shine at the Combine and he unfortunately didn't reach that level.  His 40 yard dash time was unexpectedly slow which surprised many who had heard about his great speed.  He ran a 4.49 as a junior so scouts were a number in that range.  Now, LB's don't typically have to run 40 yds in a straight line, and his elite quickness and agility were evident in his shuttle and cone times and scouts are banking on his athleticism and upside rather than his current level.  Also, however, his bench press reps was one of the lowest at the LB position. For someone who was looking to be a top 10 pick, he probably left with more questions than answers.  I still think that the extra weight that Barr put on between his junior and senior years may have helped him stand up to the punishment of the LB position, but I swear it slowed him down and stiffened him a bit.

Cassius Marsh also had a surprisingly low number of reps on bench, and XSF was middle of the pack for OL.  It may be a reach, but I do wonder if this reflects something specific to the Bruins Strength and Conditioning program under Coach Sal Alosi.  It may very well be that the Bruins are focusing their training on quickness and explosiveness (the martial arts exercises for quick hands on the defensive line, for instance) that apply to football position play instead of all out speed and brute strength that the Combine measures, but it is interesting that our 3 players who were so effective last season didn't stand out compared when compared to the other draft eligible players.

Shaq Evans had a good combine and improved his standing some, but the WR class that is coming out of college this year is very deep, so he'll find lot of competition for an NFL draft spot.  Jordan Zumwalt was injured during practice for the Senior Bowl and wisely limited his activities in Indianapolis so that he can get back to 100%, but still did enough to merit being called the toughest and smartest ILB prospect at the Combine.

Jack Wang at InsideUCLA has a nice recap of each of the Bruins and how their numbers compared overall and what it can mean for them on draft day.

Sam Farmer at the LA Times had a nice review of how UCLA's prospects in the NFL draft have changed, going from a 2007 draft where only PK Justin Medlock was selected, to 2012 where not a single Bruins was selected, to last year when 4 Bruins including first rounder Datone Jones were drafted, to now where we are expecting two Bruins (Barr and X) to go in the first round, and 5 overall..

But along with the huge strides UCLA has made on the field, the Bruins have re-established themselves as a must-stop destination for NFL scouts. Six UCLA players attended last year's combine, and, by Mora's count, 15 seniors were drafted, signed as free agents or were worked out by NFL teams. That's a tribute to the recruiting of former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, too, as he also played a significant role in the rekindling of interest from NFL teams.

An NFL team scout, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said: "UCLA players were always very good athletes and had a basic understanding of football but they lacked an edge and a fire to them. Now they come in and there's a confidence, they have good football knowledge, and they're better prepared physically, from a development standpoint.

Looking ahead, UCLA's Pro Day will be in the first half of March, and all of our graduating and draft eligible (XSF) Bruins will have the option to perform for NFL scouts.  XSF, however, had such a good combine that he may choose to skip UCLA's Pro Day and go with his numbers from Indy.  After that, spring camp should get underway near the end of March and that will be our first chance to see two of our new recruits, LB Zach Whitely and DB Mossi Johnson, and graduate transfer OL Malcolm Bunche.  Spring football will finish with a scrimmage at the Rose Bowl on April 26 at 5pm PT.  The Pac-12 Network will televise the event.

And while some of our Bruin players are looking ahead to their professional future, lots of Bruin fans are looking ahead to a certain high schooler's college future.

Josh Rosen, the #1 QB prospect in the country and the #2 player overall in the 2015 class per Rivals tweeted that he will announce his commitment on March 20 at noon.  (HT to DonniesBaseball for the fanshot yesterday).  Rosen is rumored to be favoring the Bruins, but we know rumors in February don't mean a lot come LOI day in 49 weeks.  However a verbal commitment from him would be a great asset for our coaching staff to use to help recruit some of top end talent at the skill positions in the deep 2015 class, particularly that big speedy game changing WR the Bruins have been looking for.  Getting a commit from Rosen next month can really help build UCLA for the next few seasons.

See? Football never sleeps.


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