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UCLA Football: Reloading, Not Rebuilding- All Conference Performers By Team

UCLA had one massive declaration for the NFL draft- Brett Hundley. But that was in the cards for a long time. How have the Bruins compared to the rest of the conference, taking into account all NFL draft declarations to date?

All First Team Pac 12 Defensive Back Ishmael Adams
All First Team Pac 12 Defensive Back Ishmael Adams
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

As we have often suggested, for a successful season, you need to have a solid sum of the parts, i.e skilled players. But you also need to have the whole, which is greater than the sum of the parts, i.e. coaching and offensive and defensive playbooks which maximize the combined effort of the individual parts.

Today we will be looking at the sum of the parts. The following list shows the 2014 All-Pac 12 conference selections who have not declared for the NFL draft (either because they are not eligible to do so or because they have chosen to extend their college experience). The list is sorted by school. For players with a (1) after their name, these are 1st team selections. For players with a (2) after their name, these are 2nd team selections. All other players are honorable mention.

Arizona-  Scooby Wright (1) LB, Drew Riggleman (2) P, Cayleb Jones WR, Anu Solomon QB, Nick Wilson RB

Arizona St-  D.J. Foster (2) RB, Nick Kelly (2) OL, Zane Gonzalez (2) PK, Demario Richard RB, Vi Teofilo OL, Christian Westerman OL, DJ Calhoun LB, Lloyd Carrington DB, Salamo Fiso LB, Laiu Moeakiola LB, Jordan Simone DB

UC Berkeley-  Stephen Anderson TE, Chris Borrayo OL, Jared Goff QB, Daniel Lasco RB, Michael Barton LB

Colorado-  Nelson Spruce (2) WR, Sefo Liufau QB, Josh Tupou DL

Oregon-  Pharaoh Brown (1) TE, Royce Freeman (2) RB, DeForest Buckner (2) DL, Charles Nelson (2) special teams, Byron Marshall WR, Arik Armstead DL, Joe Walker LB

Oregon St-  None (wow)

Southern Cal-  Max Tuerk (1) OL, Su'a Cravens (1) DB, JuJu Smith (2) special teams, Cody Kessler QB, Toa Lobendahn OL, Viane Talamaivao OL, Adoree' Jackson DB

Stanford-  Austin Hooper (2) TE, Kyle Murphy (2) OL, Zach Hoffpauir DB, Blake Martinez LB

Utah-  Devontae Booker (1) RB, Andy Phillips (1) PK, Tom Hackett (1) P, Hunter Dimick DL, Lowell Lotulelei DL, Jared Norris LB

Washington-  John Ross WR, Budda Baker DB, Cameron Van Winkle PK

Washington St-  Joe Dahl OL, Jeremiah Allison LB, Daquawn Brown DB

And last, but by absolutely no possible means least-

UCLA-  Ishmael Adams (1) DB, Jake Brendel (2) OL, Kenny Clark (2) DL, Myles Jack (2) LB, Fabian Moreau (2) DB, Caleb Benenoch OL, Thomas Duarte TE, Jordan Payton WR, Paul Perkins RB, Alex Redmond OL, Scott Quessenberry OL, Eddie Vanderdoes DL, Jaleel Wadood DB

There are several ways to slice and dice this.  Here are the rankings, in terms of sheer number of returning players who received at least honorable mention recognition (with 0.5 for special teams performers):

UCLA  13

Arizona St   10.5

Oregon and Southern Cal  6.5

Cal and Utah   5

Arizona   4.5

Stanford  4

Colorado and Washington St   3

Washington  2.5

Oregon St    0

I happen to find this ranking the most meaningful. Even if a 1st or 2nd team performer theoretically brings more to the table (why theoretically? see Perkins, Paul), all returnees, including honorable mention, denote one less puzzle piece to fill going into the offseason. A new player could theoretically supplant a returning player, but at least the coaching staff is not starting with an unknown. There clearly are other holes which do not need to be filled. For example, Stanford's QB Kevin Hogan has not declared. He would probably get a lifetime achievement award based on his games against UCLA, but he did not make honorable mention. But this does seem like a decent starting point in assessing relative returning strength.

For those who think that a returning 1st or 2nd team performer should mean more potential going into the offseason, here is a ranking which assigns a value of 3 to returning 1st teamers, 2 to returning 2nd teamers, and 1 to honorable mentions, with a 50% discount for special team performers:

UCLA  19

Arizona St  13

Southern Cal   12

Oregon  11

Utah   9

Arizona   7

Stanford    6

Cal    5

Colorado  4

Washington St   3

Washington   2

Oregon St     0

As you can see, with weightings, the rankings don't change all that much, and no matter how you slice it, UCLA has more returning all-conference performers than any other school.

A couple of other takeaways, IMO-

After domination by the Pac-12 North in the early years of the expanded Pac-12, the Pac-12 South is clearly the dominant division now.

Oregon seems to have separated themselves from the rest of the Pac-12 North. The sum of the individual parts also appears to be less than the top two Pac-12 South teams, although I suspect that coaching will bring the whole up towards the top.

This same ranking last year showed that Stanford had relatively more holes to fill coming into 2014. And that plus the "interesting" in-game decisions by David Shaw resulted in a drop for Stanford compared to previous years. Stanford again appears to be looking up at the rest of the top teams in the conference. This could be a reflection of having the Harbaugh era further in the rearview mirror. Will that happen to the Niners also?

Obviously, Brett Hundley leaves a massive gap to be filled. But the Bruins have returning quality performers at other skilled positions, on both lines and in the defensive LB and DB corps.

The future looks bright. We have an excellent sum of the individual parts. Now we need the coaching to maximize the whole.

One technical postscript- the list of NFL draft declarations was taken from this NBC Sports site, plus news that Buck Allen is leaving Southern Cal to play a different type of pro ball. Players have until the 15th to file their declarations. For most schools, this involves submission of an official form by the player. For Florida State, parole officers will handle this. We will update this with any later declarations.