It's Day 3 of on-field activities at the NFL Combine and the last opportunity for our U.C.L.A. Bruins to make a splash in Indy.
It has been a very good Combine for U.C.L.A. so far. After a strong day one from our offensive linemen, both WR Jordan Payton and TE Thomas Duarte impressed yesterday with the quarterbacks and receivers. Payton surprised a lot of people by running a 4.4.8 in the 40, and then repeated the result, silencing critics who expected him to be slower. He was already considered a strong route runner with good hands and good run blocking skills, so the confirmation of good speed should really help him jump up in a wide receiver class that doesn't have a lot of highly touted playmakers this year. Thomas Duarte is trying to sell himself as more than just a pass catching tight end, and though he will need some weight and strength to win battles on the offensive line, his receiving skills are as good as anyone in the tight end group this season.
So now after two very good days, the Bruins arrive on Day 3 with their two best pro prospects, defensive lineman Kenny Clark and linebacker Myles Jack, both juniors. As in previous days, each will have a number that identifies himself and his position group and also has a preliminary scouting grade. The grading system is as follows:
4.50-4.74: Chance to be in an NFL training camp
4.75-4.99: Should be in an NFL training camp
5.00: 50/50 chance to make a team
5.01-5.19: Better-than average chance to make an NFL roster
5.20-5.49: NFL Backup or special teams player
5.50-5.99: Chance to be an NFL starter
6.00-6.49: Should be an NFL starter
6.50-6.99: Chance to be Pro Bowl caliber
7.00-7.49: Pro Bowl caliber
7.50-7.99: Future All-Pro
8/00-8.99: Perennial All-Pro
9.00-10.0: Once in a lifetime player
Today's drills include the standard shuttle and cone drills, long jump and broad jump, and the 40 yard dash. Clark already put up a solid 29 reps on the bench press while Jack did a kinda meh 19. Clark and the d linemen will also be tested today in some DL upfield rush techniques at which he should excel with his quickness and explosiveness. The linebackers will do drills focusing on movement pursuit and coverage to see how well they move and change direction, but Jack probably will not participate in these.
Today's activities and analysis by the pros will be live on the NFL Network and streamed live with up to date results at NFL.com.
Pros: Will hammer finesse guards and centers with initial punch and overtake the neutral zone. Quick to diagnose run direction and will race to set the edge against blocker. Low center of gravity and powerful core make him a challenging block to seal for linemen. Cranks up a nasty bull rush to collapse pocket when single blocked. Has feel for trap blocks and double teams and is quick to read and react to screens. Can work his way through double teams and squeeze the gap. Cons: Short and missing arm length to be better tackle finisher. Not a quick twitch athlete. Needs to do a better job of bringing feet and hips through contact. Despite strength, lack of size will be challenging in some matchups. Straight line bull rusher with average lateral quickness for twists. Bottom line: Has the strength and talent to be a plug and play 4-3 nose, but lack of size and concerns about his value on third downs could push his draft value into the second day. Clark's wrestling background gives him a huge leg up at the point of attack and he won't be 21 until October which means he's still filling out his frame. Would benefit from a year of rotational work as he continues to physically mature.
Pros: Ultra athletic and can get to the rock from any position on the field. Former running back with speed to run down crossing routes and head off running backs exploding around the corner. Adequate instincts with above average reaction off the snap. Races downhill after the snap and can weave from gap to gap with blazing lateral quickness. Able to weave through and around traffic in relentless pursuit. Plays with desired pad level and leverage. Uses hip explosion to strike on the rise with a hammering blow at the point of attack. Can jar offensive linemen off-balance with his strikes. Comes off of blocks quickly. Offers tremendous versatility for creative defensive coordinators. Has the juice to be an edge rusher in sub-packages and can fit into any 4-3 linebacker spot at any time. Has the strength, speed and athleticism to cover tight ends, running backs and some slot receivers. Plays with frenetic energy and is always looking to get his licks in. Cons: Doesn't have prototypical linebacker frame. Lower body build is more like a running back and doesn't have ideal length. Will take some challenging routes to the football at times. His excitable brand of play will need more control in the pros. Suffered torn anterior meniscus that ended his season in late September. Medicals will likely determine draft stock. Bottom line: Upper echelon explosiveness with the desire, speed and aggression to find his way into play after play. While UCLA asked Jack to do a little bit of everything, an NFL team is more likely to simplify his tasks and set him into attack mode to maximize his outstanding physical traits. If he bounces back from the knee injury, Jack could become a high-end talent early on in his career.