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The NFL Draft Prospects of 2015: UCLA Bruins

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A look at the draft eligible players from the 2014-2015 UCLA Bruins' football team.

Eric Kendricks and Owamagbe Odighizuwa against UVA. Both will be selected in the NFL Draft.
Eric Kendricks and Owamagbe Odighizuwa against UVA. Both will be selected in the NFL Draft.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As you all probably know by now, I'm a football junkie. NFL, college, high school, whatever. If it is being played on a football field with an oblong ball and technologically outdated first down markers, I will probably watch it.

So it should come as no surprise that I love the NFL draft cycle.

Getting to watch tape and drills and reading intelligent analysis of players (emphasis on the intelligent part). Stuff like that is greatly enjoyable to me.

So, today I will be taking a look at each of the draft eligible prospect from the UCLA Bruins. Just as an early prep for what to expect in a couple of months.

UCLA is looking at 4 draft picks this season: Brett Hundley, Eric Kendricks, Owamagbe Obdighizuwa and Ellis McCarthy. A 5th player (Anthony Jefferson) is possible, but unlikely at this point.

So let's get to the players:

Brett Hundley

This is the latest from the Brett Hundley news cycle:

Hundley declined an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Why would Brett Hundley pass on Sr. Bowl opportunity? Makes no sense. Only need 1-yr history lesson (McCarron/Garropolo) to figure out value</p>&mdash; Todd McShay (@McShay13) <a href="https://twitter.com/McShay13/status/555747917601185792">January 15, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I do not like that decision for Brett at all. I am not an expert by any means, but I think Hundley had a lot more to gain by spending a week in a pro-style system where he is much more physically talented than the other 5 quarterbacks and would also be playing with the best group of skill position players he has ever been around (Kevin White out of WVU, Ameer Abdullah from Nebraska, Devin Smith from Ohio State, Ty Montgomery, Dres Anderson from Utah, three very big, talented TEs) than he had to lose by exposing himself to a little public criticism.

I am sure that his agent advised him to skip it, but I don't like the move. Just being honest.

It probably doesn't change anything for BH though.

He's pretty much locked in as either the 3rd and 4th best QB prospect in the draft. Clearly behind Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, who will both be gone in the top 10. He will be jostling for position over the draft process with Garrett Grayson from Colorado State and (if he declares, which he shouldn't) Cardale Jones of Ohio State.

In the NFL, that means he will be off the board before the 3rd round. He could slide in the back half of the 1st round to a team in search of a young QB to groom as a replacement down the road (like Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, Arizona or Pittsburgh).

Ellis McCarthy

As was noted earlier, Ellis McCarthy is headed to the NFL Draft after completing his junior year at UCLA. Some people in the local media are subliminally criticizing this move because of things like the number of games he started (which, really? That's not a way to measure success.). I don't see much too be concerned about here personally.

Ellis has some legit outstanding tape, some decent tape and some underwhelming tape. But he's a for sure NFL talent.

Ranked 8th among DTs here.

Ranked 6th in the 2015 NT class and 12th overall DT and was 2nd overall for the 2016 class here.

NFL.com listed him as the 8th most physical player in college football.

Easy to forget he was getting hype like this prior to the season:

McCarthy emerged as an asset last season once Bruins' coaches moved him into the starting lineup. "McCarthy was a big-time recruit, but he had to learn about leverage and keeping blockers occupied, not just looking to shed them immediately and make plays in the backfield," Kiper wrote. "He has a powerful, 6-4, 330-pound frame and could emerge as a likely first-rounder." If McCarthy continues to play within himself and takes another step forward in 2014, he could declare for the 2015 draft

Or this:

"NFL teams looking for a massive two-gap run-plugger will be very intrigued by McCarthy. To earn the high selection that his tools warrant, however, he'll need to play with greater consistency. If he does so, McCarthy could skyrocket up draft boards," Rang wrote

Or this:

UCLA junior DT Ellis McCarthy "jumps off the film," writes TFY Draft Insider Tony Pauline.
"He does so sporadically," the analyst clarifies, a not-so-veiled shot at McCarthy's work ethic. "At the top of his game McCarthy is a difference maker up front but he also disappears for stretches."

Ellis will be drafted. Probably in the 3rd to 5th round. He will deserve to be and will likely be a better NFL player than he ever was at UCLA.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa

Owa may be one of my favorite UCLA players in time that I have been following the Bruins, so I have some admitted bias here. But the praise that Owa gets from NFL scouts is for real.

He is a player that looks unbelievable on tape. His counting stats do not match what he shows on the field. Once teams get to watch cut-ups of Owa from this year and see him tear up the Combine and the Senior Bowl, they will fall in love.

Ranked as the 12th DE on Walter Football

Ranked as the 9th DE and 53rd overall prospect on CBS Sports

Ranked as the 5th DE by NFLDraftScout.com

Impressed Dan Kadar of SB Nation against Southern Cal

"Odighizuwa has a scheme-versatile skill-set that will appeal to both 4-3 and 3-4 teams with his size and athletic traits," CBS Sports' Dane Brugler wrote on Tuesday. "He is body beautiful with a frame made for the NFL, the length and strength to play the run and the quickness and body control to disrupt the passer."

I can easily see Owa sneaking into the first round because of his versatility (played everywhere this year on the DL), physical skills and exceptional tape. His worst case scenario is probably around where Cassius Marsh went last season, early 4th round.

Eric Kendricks

This is the most likely 1st Bruin off of the board in 2015, which no one would have guessed a year ago.

Ranked 1st overall at ILB by NflDraftScout.com

Ranked as the 2nd ILB by Walter Football

Also ranked as the 4th OLB by Walter Football, which I feel is a better fit for him in the NFL due to size limitations.

Ranked as the 1st ILB by SB Nation

I personally love this comment from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (I know, it's BR, but they do have some positive stuff):

"Last year, about this time, I began talking about an undersized, over-productive linebacker who had dominated college football but wasn't being praised as a draft prospect due to metrics," Miller wrote. "I warned against undervaluing this kid, because things like instincts, heart and tackling aren't measured in height or 40 times. That player was Chris Borland ... [and] Eric Kendricks is a similar type of prospect." The UCLA prospect racked up 139 pre-bowl tackles this year, his third year in a row with over 100 tackles. "Kendricks (6'0", 230 lbs) isn't big, but he's agile, instinctive and packs a punch as a tackler," Miller wrote. "And there's a good chance he'll be under-valued like Borland was and end up a steal from Day 2." The Butkus Award winner could play middle linebacker in a 3-4 defense, or the weakside in a 4-3 alignment. We see a Round 2 pick.

Kendricks won't make it past the 2nd round, could go in the 1st depending on the team. Issue is similar to what happened with Borland and All-Pro Lavonte David, linebackers that are not pass rushers tend to be undervalued in the Draft. That narrative is shifting, as it did with interior offensive linemen, but could see him fall to the 2nd.

Anthony Jefferson, Jordan James, Malcolm Bunche

Of these three only Jefferson has a chance to be drafted. Unless James pulls like a 4.3 40 out of nowhere, I can't see him being taken.

Bunche is probably a training camp invite type due to his size. I don't personally see an NFL player when I saw him play, but you cannot teach size so he will get a chance. Perhaps with better coaching he can blossom.

He is ranked as the 16th guard by Walter Football.

Once coaches get to see Jefferson on coach's film instead of highlights, he will rise a little bit but he does have physical limitations. Not the fastest DB, good size but a narrow frame (similar to Aaron Hester in that respect)

Jefferson is ranked 18th at safety by nfldraftscout.com

20th at safety by CBS Sports

25th by Draftcountdown.com

That would put him right on the edge of being a 7th round pick and undrafted.

Both Jefferson and Bunche are participating in the NFL Players' Association Bowl in Carson, so they have a chance to show off to scouts and improve their stock. I would love to see both take advantage of the opportunity.

Until next time, Go Bruins!