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Grading the most recent UCLA Bruins to be drafted

A total of 22 players have been drafted from UCLA since 2015 — but who’s been the most impressive

Miami Dolphins v New York Jets Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL Draft is approaching at a snail’s pace as it’s the only ‘big-four’ sporting event that has taken place in weeks and will take place for months.

That being said, we know a few UCLA Bruins will hear their names called, virtually albeit, adding their name in the Bruins history books with a cast of who’s who. There have been a total of 22 UCLA players drafted since the 2015 season and with the draft approaching, I thought I’d take a look at just how those players have panned out over their short careers, to date.

I’ve assigned a grade for each of the UCLA alum drafted based on their production at the NFL level, their draft value respective towards their position and subsequent production as well as a couple other factors.

2019 NFL Draft

Round 7, Pick 40 — Caleb Wilson, TE

I had high hopes for Wilson. I thought some of his high-end play while with UCLA was among the best I’ve seen in college football in some time. However, he wasn’t selected until the final pick of the 2019 draft and didn’t even last with the Arizona Cardinals who drafted him. He did land with the Washington Redskins for the preseason where he caught six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown but he failed to make a regular season game.

The potential is still there, in my opinion, so I’ll slide conservatively here.

Grade: C

2018 NFL Draft

Round 1, Pick 10 — Josh Rosen, QB

Rosen was drafted by the Cardinals, put in a lose-lose situation, lost, had a bad offensive line, was traded to an equally terrible team with an equally terrible OL, lost some more. We all know how this ended up. Still, there have been very few positive moments in his NFL career to date and his tenure with the Miami Dolphins has been worse than his time spent with the Arizona Cardinals.

This is about a good a time as ever to remind Cardinals fans that they could have drafted Lamar Jackson. They could have even traded back to draft Lamar.

Grade: F

Round 1, Pick 15 — Kolton Miller, OT

This one was a head-scratcher for me and most likely all other ‘draft pundits’ out there. The mammoth Miller was largely a disappointment in his rookie season as well but he showed a ton of improvement in pass protection in Year 2. This is a situation where perhaps an NFL lifestyle and NFL coaching staff is paying dividends on Miller’s development. Still, the jury is out on whether he’ll make it past his rookie contract and considering the players they passed up to draft Miller, this is still a befuddling draft choice that can only be forgotten if Miller becomes an All-Pro.

Grade: D+

Round 4, Pick 22 — Kenny Young, LB

Who doesn’t love them some Kenny Young? A missle to the football, he added some pass-rushing skills to his repertoire in his rookie year and came away with multiple sacks. Still, it wasn’t enough to keep him with the Baltimore Ravens, who drafted him, as he’s now back in LA with the Rams for the 2020 season. He was acquired during a midseason trade but didn’t play a snap with LA in 2019 but holes on their roster for 2020 likely signifies he’ll have a bigger role this fall. Great value at his draft position but not great NFL production to date.

Grade: C-

Round 5, Pick 18 — Scott Quessenberry, G

Unspectacular pick, unspectacular play so far in his career, Quessenberry has shifted over to center down the stretch of the season last year with the Chargers but honestly, was a liability in pass protection for most of those games as he adjusted until around Week 11. Positional versatility is great for value but production outweighs versatility any day. Still, I am intrigued and I want to see more.

Grade: C+

Round 5, Pick 25 — Jordan Lasley, WR

Having spent two preseason camps with three different teams including the Baltimore Ravens who selected him in 2018, Lasley has yet to make a regular-season catch. He’s a speedy receiver with some great flashes but has yet to utilize his skillset in the NFL. Once again, not a bad draft spot for a flier on a receiver but the Ravens cut ties with him after a preseason.

Grade: D-

2017 NFL Draft

Round 1, Pick 26 — Takkarist McKinley, DE

Perhaps the most productive draft pick from the Bruins over the years, McKinley is certainly more than his now-famous draft outburst. He’s recorded multiple sacks in each of his three seasons as a pro and has been a solid pass-rusher off the edge for the Atlanta Falcons. Have to think he’s in line for a big pay day as his rookie contract is coming up to the team option Year 5 after the 2020 fall and this will be one of those interesting contract negotiations that take place during or after the 2020 season.

Still, give me Takk in the latter stages of the first round any day.

Grade: A-

Round 3, Pick 17 — Fabian Moreau, CB

Moreau has speed to burn and make up for any lapses in coverage, which, well, has been great for him as he’s seen a lot of those in his three years as a pro so far. He’s recorded four interceptions, including three this past season, but has been on the receiving end of multiple big plays behind him. He’s also been charged for far too many penalties. I’d be shocked if he stuck with Washington after Year 4.

Grade: C-

Round 3, Pick 24 — Eddie Vanderdoes, DT

Eddie spent 2018 without a team before sticking with the Houston Texans in 2019. Even then, he went largely unknown during his three appearances with Houston, recording just a handful of tackles with no viable threat as a pass-rusher. He’s very likely on his last leg with the Texans and could see his way out of the league if 2020 doesn’t pan out.

Grade: F

Round 5, Pick 11 — Jayon Brown, LB

A player of this caliber this late in a draft shocked me when he slipped this far but has elated me to see his career pan out the way it has. He’s a tremendous three-down linebacker for the Tennessee Titans and is in line for a huge extension after his rookie contract is up at the end of the year. He’s been a stalwart against the run, an extremely talented blitzer when it called for it and was stellar in coverage over the past two seasons. Give this man a huge deal, Tennessee.

Grade: A+

Round 6, Pick 28 — Conor McDermott, OT

Finally making two starts down the last two games of the 2019 season, McDermott is a mountain of a man inside for the New York Jets now. He’s played for three-quarters of the teams in the AFC East after being selected by the New England Patriots, signing with the Buffalo Bills and then with the Jets as he’s finally found what seemed to be a spot in the lineup in New York. We’ll see where he projects in the Jets starting rotation or if he’s more of rotational player once fall is officially on but until then, this one is an average selection and a below-average career to date.

Grade: D+

2016 NFL Draft

Round 1, Pick 27 — Kenny Clark, DT

One of the best in the business calls UCLA his alma mater and that man is Clark. Another representative of a player who should see a massive contract when his rookie deal is up is Clark after the Green Bay Packers picked up his fifth-year option, guaranteeing him $7.69M this fall. He’s a bringer of havoc to opposing offenses and is the pinnacle of the interior defensive lineman. His level of play warrants him as a top-10 selection.

Grade: A+

Round 2, Pick 5 — Myles Jack, LB

A player who needs to see the field more often than not to accumulate an impact. Was he worthy of a first-round selection? Pre-draft, sure. Four years into his career? No, now the Jacksonville Jaguars look very smart by taking him in the second. Still, he had flashes of some brilliance during his two-year stint where he was uninjured during the 2017-18 seasons. If he can bring that back to life, it will bode him well for him and the Jaguars, who guaranteed him $33 million over the next four seasons.

The Jaguars made him the third-highest paid linebacker in football after those 2017-18 seasons but after Telvin Smith took the year off and more responsibility was placed on Jack, he struggled in 2019. That doesn’t mean he didn’t warrant the high contract but anytime you’re mentioned with the likes of Bobby Wagner, you better back it up year in and year out.

Grade: C+

Round 5, Pick 9 — Caleb Benenoch, OT

Now with the Detroit Lions, Benenoch spent three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and seemingly lost a step in each year. He capped his final season in Tampa with a disastrous year in pass protection that saw him beat quicker than Donovan Smith at times. And that’s saying something.

Grade: D-

Round 5, Pick 10 — Paul Perkins, RB

A solid rookie season saw him average over 4.0 yards per carry but he has yet to accumulate more than a sprinkling of snaps since. In fact, he ran the ball 12 times a season ago for 29 yards and 13 of those yards came on one run. Running backs are easily replaced nowadays and Perkins isn’t replacing anyone.

Grade: D

Round 5, Pick 15 — Jordan Payton, WR

Finishing his career with just one catch for three years in the regular season, Payton only played a handful of snaps during his NFL career. He’s not seen the field since the 2017 preseason that saw him haul in a 45-yard touchdown but nothing else.

Grade: F

Round 7, Pick 1 — Aaron Wallace Jr., LB

Wallace has a ton of preseason experience but hasn’t stuck much with the Tennessee Titans or now the Denver Broncos since his rookie season saw him bring in his only career sack. He played no regular-season snaps in 2019 and though he appears on the Broncos roster, he doesn’t currently have a number assigned to him.

Grade: D-

Round 7, Pick 10 — Thomas Duarte, TE

A popular pick for ‘preseason player who should explode’ or player who looks great in camp is Duarte, who hasn’t caught a regular-season pass in his career. Still, he’s made four preseason camps and is signed to the Atlanta Falcons who need tight end help this season. Whether or not Duarte will be a plan to help them at the position is something that will be answered this fall but for now, this is unfulfilled potential from Duarte.

Grade: D-

Round 7, Pick 17 — Devin Fuller, WR

Fuller played in three preseason games and caught five passes for 66 yards and a touchdown in 2016. He hasn’t seen the field since.

Grade: F

2015 NFL Draft

Round 2, Pick 13 — Eric Kendricks, LB

If this guy isn’t considered one of the best linebackers in the game, you better find some better analysis to read from. Or get your eyes checked. He’s perhaps been one of the best coverage linebackers since he was drafted but he really took it to a new level in 2019 and that was a full year removed from signing a lengthy, expensive contract. He’s lived up to the five-year, $50 million contract in just two seasons of play and there’s no signs of slowing down.

Grade: A+

Round 3, Pick 10 — Owa Odighizuwa, DE

Considering the New York Giants could have drafted a number of solid pass-rushers instead of Odighizuwa, I’ll give them an F for their selection. And considering his issues he saw during his tenure in the league, I’m not sure I can do anything better for his play on the field. He had two career sacks and just a handful of tackles in his two seasons as a pro.

Think about this: The Giants could have drafted Danielle Hunter.

Grade: F

Round 5, Pick 11 — Brett Hundley, QB

He was never meant to be a starting quarterback in the NFL and yet he has been thrust into that role multiple times in his career so far. I’ve got nothing but kind things to say about Hundley, who is arguably one of the better backups to have on your team’s roster. He’ll run your offense the way you call it, and though he’ll take too many sacks if given too much time on the field, he still won’t do much worse than the league’s bottom-tier signal-callers.

Grade: C-

Tune in this week when we add in more UCLA Bruins to make it to the NFL as the 2020 NFL Draft gets underway on Thursday, April 23.