The 2014 NFL Draft will kick off tomorrow and UCLA fans are eager to find out where their former stars, headlined by projected top-15 pick OLB Anthony Barr, will end up in the NFL. There's a total of nine Bruins (ten if you count former UCLA WR Jerry Rice Jr., who transferred to UNLV) who have their name in this year's draft, with projections ranging from the top-15 in the first round (Barr) to unlikely to be drafted, but likely to get signed as an undrafted free agent (Shaq Evans). So with a lot of excitement surrounding this year's NFL Draft, the various writers and editors of Bruins Nation got together to discuss some coming questions on this year's draft.
The NFL Draft gets underway tomorrow evening at 5 p.m. PST and there's a lot of anticipation for UCLA fans with Anthony Barr and Xavier Su'a-Filo both projected to go pretty early - which Bruin do you think comes off the big board first?
Achilles: Barr, because athletic, pass rushing linebackers are more in the demand than guards. XSF might be the better bet if you're looking for a solid guy who might start for ten years.
Bellerophon: Barr will come off the board first, simply because of his position, the needs of the teams earlier in the draft, and his huge upside. He only played defense for two seasons in college, so his ceiling is a lot higher than XSF, who everyone knows is what he is (a very good, stable, NFL-caliber offensive lineman for 10+ years). XSF may be the better pick when we look back in 20 years' time (since he'll likely be a solid starter for at least a decade), whereas Barr could turn out to be a special LB talent or he could turn out to be just NFL average (like Bruce Davis and Akeem Ayers).
Patroclus: Barr, for the reasons that everyone else has already covered.
Odysseus: Barr, because of positional value, as Achilles mentioned.
bruinclassof10: I would have to agree with everyone here and say Barr too. With the league shifting towards more pass-happy offenses, a versatile linebacker like Barr is a premium.
gbruin: Yup. Barr will gofirst. He just has so much potential that he won't fall that late in the first round, where I hope XSF goes.
JoeBruin15: Defense wins championships. Barr.
There's a total of nine Bruins (Barr, XSF, Shaq Evans, Cassius Marsh, Jordan Zumwalt, Keenan Graham, Seali'i Epenesa, Malcolm Jones, and Stan McKay) who are in the draft this year - how many do you think will have their name called? Of those who don't get drafted, do you see any of them making a roster as an undrafted free agent?
Achilles: Barr, X, Zumwalt all get drafted. Maybe Marsh? The rest, I don't know. None of them seem like NFL guys to me.
Bellerophon: Barr, XSF, Zumwalt, and Marsh will all be drafted, although for Zumwalt it will likely be around the fourth round and Marsh will likely be a sixth round pick. I think Stan McKay and Shaq Evans will get signed by someone as undrafted free agents. They have the athleticism and skill set to make a NFL roster as a special teams only type guy.
Patroclus: Barr and XSF.
Odysseus: Agreed. Maybe Evans will be drafted, but he seems more likely to be an UDFA.
bruinclassof10: Barr, X, Zumwalt will get drafted while Shaq Evans and Marsh should get long looks too. As for Graham, Epenesa and McKay, they will surely get tryouts.
gbruin: Barr, X, Zumwalt, and Marsh will get drafted. Shaq is a long shot but he'll get an undrafted free agent spot if he isn't, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him make a roster.
JoeBruin15: I agree with gbruin. Barr, X, Zumwalt and Marsh. Shaq will get drafted late or sign as an UFA. I also think Malcolm Jones will sign as an UFA somewhere.
Of the incoming NFL rookies from UCLA in this class, who do you think will have the most immediate impact? Do you see any of these guys seeing the field their first year?
Achilles: X will play and so will Barr. Barr will be drafted too high to not see the field at least situationally.
Bellerophon: That's hard to say. It'll either be Barr or XSF of all of our potential draftees, but it depends on who drafts them and when. Depending on the depth of whichever team they end up with, they could both be seeing significant time, if not starting, in their rookie season. I think XSF is more NFL ready, both mentally and physically (after all, he's much older than a lot of other rookies since he took time off for his Mormon missionary work), so I could see him making a spot along the offensive line his.
Odysseus: XSF seems to be a plug-and-play NFL starting offensive guard. Barr will most likely contribute early, but he could be drafted by a team that already has starters and wants to use him more as a situational pass rusher at first while he continues to learn the position.
bruinclassof10: X will plug into an NFL o-line and have the same impact that Kyle Long had on the Bears a year ago.
gbruin: I think Barr will have more visible impact because he has such big play potential. However, I see X getting a starting job during training camp and holding on to it for a decade. It may not be as high profile, but he'll have a huge long term impact on whatever team picks him.
JoeBruin15: I think both Barr and XSF will see substantial playing time this year, but Barr will have the bigger immediate impact on whatever team selects him.
Let's skip ahead a year - barring injury or some freak regression, Brett Hundley will be the biggest name Bruin and likely first-round NFL Draft pick in 2015 - which franchise do you think is the best fit for the young signal caller?
Achilles: Eagles. If Chip Kelly is in the market for a qb next season and has a chance to get Hundley it seems like a perfect fit.
Odysseus: It's hard to say, because so much depends on which team needs a quarterback next year, which of course will depend on this year's draft and the development of young QBs in the league. In addition to the Eagles, the Bills might be a good fit if Manuel doesn't do anything this year. The Vikings or Texans are also teams that have some other good pieces on the roster and could be pretty good with a good young quarterback.
bruinclassof10: Brett has the personality and leadership to lead anywhere he goes. I just hope he doesn't go to the Raiders, Jags, Browns or Bills, where QB's go to disappear.
gbruin: Geez, that's a tough one. I think Achilles is on the right track, though. The coach and his style will be the thing and a guy like Chip Kelly would be a great fit for Brett. The way that Jim Harbaugh has utilized Colin Kaepernick could fit, too,
JoeBruin15: I agree with Classof10. Anywhere but Oakland, Jax, Cleveland or Buffalo. Although with new ownership, Buffalo may get removed from the list.
Bellerophon: I think there are a lot of places he could land - think teams with a weak current QB, or an older guy on the tail end of his career, or a team with a former college star who is really on his last chance - teams like Arizona (Carson Palmer), Chicago (Jay Cutler), Tennessee (Jake Locker), Jacksonville (Chad Henne), Minnesota (Matt Cassell/Christian Ponder), the Jets (LOLOLOLOL), Oakland (LOLOLOLOLOL x2), or Philadelphia (Nick Foles). That said, the best spot for him to land would be somewhere like Denver, New England, or New Orleans, where he can sit for a few seasons and be groomed to be the successor to Manning, Brady, or Brees. No pressure and a chance to learn from one of the best in the game - that would be the best place for him. That said, it's likely he ends up at a franchise that needs a QB sooner rather than later, in which case his hometown Arizona Cardinals wouldn't be a bad fit. Carson Palmer is a serviceable short-term solution, so Hundley wouldn't be forced into action immediately, plus their head coach (Bruce Arians) is coming off a 10-6 season (not bad considering he was playing the in the same division as the two best teams in football last year, the Seahawks and the Niners) and even if they really suck it up, he has probably two or three seasons before he'd be fired, so there wouldn't be the risk of Hundley losing the coach that drafted him immediately.
Of the current crop of sophomores and freshmen (excluding Myles Jack), which current UCLA player do you think has the best chance of joining Barr and Hundley as a first-round NFL Draft pick, either in 2015 or 2016?
Achilles: This is a really tough one because the freshman haven't even played yet and the sophomores have only played one year. Just to throw a name out there: Kenny Clark. He's a huge defensive tackle who had a good rookie season. Maybe Caleb Benenoch? Offensive linemen often get picked high and he might be a four year starter when all is said and done. Talented kid with huge upside.
Odysseus: I will go with Eddie Vanderdoes. I'm not sure if he's a first-round pick, but he's a possibility.
bruinclassof10: We know Jack and Kenneth Clark are league bound, while guys like Benenoch, Duarte, Vanderdoes and Redmond look like they have potential to play on Sundays too. I'll go with the darkhorse candidate. Tahaan Goodman will be a great one. He reminds me of Rahim Moore but with more upside and can lay the wood. Once he's a full-time starter and Coach Meat continues to coach him up, we will see his name called at the NFL draft.
gbruin: Ha. I can't predict tomorrow's draft and you want want me to guess at 2 years from now? Ok...Thomas Duarte might be in that league the way he is developing. And I agree with Achilles, again. A top left tackle is always in demand, and Caleb Benenoch could be that kind of player. And a longshot guess is Ishmael Adams, especially if he keeps popping as a return guy.
JoeBruin15: Craig Lee. The kid is explosive!
Bellerophon: I should have opened this question up to include the current juniors as well, because that class is stacked with guys who could make NFL rosters (Ellis McCarthy, Kenny Orjioke, Ishmael Adams, Devin Fuller, Jake Brendel), but if we're looking at the underclassmen, then Caleb Benenoch has the best chance to go early in the draft, assuming he continues his upward development that we've seen so far. But I also think Eldridge Massington has a really good shot - he has the prototypical NFL size (6'3", 210 pounds) and he's looked good in the very limited practice action we've seen. Someone has to fill the void in the receiver corps left by Shaq Evans and I think he could be on the beneficial end of Hundley's Heisman caliber season this year.
Alright folks, that's what we had to say about the NFL Draft, but fire away in the comment thread with your own takes on our Bruins in the upcoming NFL Draft, the current Bruins on the roster who look to one day play on Sundays, and your thoughts on how our UCLA Bruins will fare tomorrow when the NFL Draft gets underway.