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UCLA Football: Bruins at the Combine

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UCLA had five players at this year's NFL Combine- Brett Hundley, Anthony Jefferson, Eric Kendricks, Ellis McCarthy, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa. How did their draft prospects change as a result of the combine?

Eric Kendricks, with empty seats brought in from OPUG
Eric Kendricks, with empty seats brought in from OPUG
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I went through something like the NFL Combine my first fall quarter at UCLA. People like Fox and 66 will remember this. The rest will get a glimpse into prehistoric times. There was no online registration for classes back in the day. As a returning student, you went to a registration "fair" and signed up for your desired classes. But as an incoming freshman, you had to physically go to each classroom and obtain one of the scarce computer punch cards, which you then turned in to be enrolled in that class. And with classes which might stretch from Dickson to Boelter and beyond, you had to do your own version of the 40 yard dash if you wanted to get in your desired classes. This was called "running for classes", the precursor of the Combine's 40 yard dash. And if you were a social sciences/humanities major like me, after you got in your classes, you then had to go to Ackerman and buy up to 47 (that was my max, for real) books to be read (in theory) over the next 10 weeks. Lugging those 47 books back up to Rieber was my own version of the Combine's Bench Press. And then when you had a 10 am class in Dickson, and an 11 am class in Moore, and there was a TV commercial being shot with Pat Boone (true story) in between with paths blocked off, you had the chance to do your own version of the Combine's 60 yard shuttle.

The NFL has tried to combine (hence the word) aspects of the UCLA 1967 registration process into a multiday experience, using quantitative data to assess the future potential of NFL prospects. These prospects will in turn succeed in no small measure as a result of success in the intangibles. But this is the system in place. And prospects are well served to do as well as they can obviously, and hope for improved draft status as a result.

And how did the Bruins do?  Let's go down the list alphabetically. Our primary resource will be NFL.com.  Here is a link to the UCLA page.

---Brett Hundley. Graded out at 5.54, which translates as "Chance to become an NFL starter." The basic rap on Brett has more to do, in my opinion, with the offensive (in multiple senses of the word) schemes employed by UCLA. He did not have a chance to show how he would perform in a pro style offense, so the jury is out. Running 40 yard dashes and doing vertical jumps in front of the camera won't really change the fact that he did not take snaps under center and drop back into a pocket. The profile on the NFL site has quite a few negatives, but at the end of the day, Hundley had the third highest QB score behind Winston and Mariotta. He did not make a dramatic jump up, or a big slide down, and should still look to go by the end of the 2nd round.

----Anthony Jefferson. Graded out at 4.94, which translates as "Should be in an NFL training camp." The basic take on Jefferson seems to be that he has solid football instincts, but may not have the physical attributes necessary to cover speedy wides in the NFL. There were 28 cornerbacks who graded out higher than Jefferson in this year's combine. So he has his work cut out for him. But he made second team all-conference for a reason. You can't measure heart. Let's hope that Jefferson can prove the doubters wrong.

---Eric Kendricks. Graded out at 5.78, which translates like Hundley into "Chance to become an NFL starter." The written profile sounds much better than chance to be a starter.

Here are a couple of quotes from his profile.

His production and character makes it easy for a scout to bang the table for him.

He has the athleticism and demeanor to be an impactful, productive outside linebacker in a 4-3 for years to come.

Sounds like the Eric Kendricks who we came to know and love. He won the Butkus Award for a reason.

The reference to outside linebacker is interesting, because he is listed on the Combine participant roster as an inside linebacker. At least he will have a linebacker coach who does not throw clipboards (or so we can hope). Kendrick's 5.78 grade is the 3rd highest of the inside linebackers at the Combine, so he should be in good shape come draft day, and with his class ranking could well be a first rounder.

---Ellis McCarthy. Graded out at 5.05, which translates into "Better than average chance to make NFL roster." McCarthy clearly did not perform at the ***** (that is 5 stars) level projected out of high school, as he worked through numerous injuries and weight issues. McCarthy did not start any games for the Bruins last season, so being down the list would make sense. There are 23 defensive tackles who received higher grades at this year's Combine. But McCarthy clearly still has potential.

--Owamagbe Odighizuwa. Graded out at 5.72, which like Hundley and Kendricks translates into "Chance to become an NFL starter." Boy, this is a tough crowd. His profile suggests a major force as a run stopper, but not so much as a pass rusher. He was a beast in the combine, with the 2nd best DL time in the 40 yard dash, the 3rd best DL time in the 60 yard shuttle (he would have definitely swerved around Pat Boone with no problem) and the highest vertical jump of any DL participant. So the notion of not being able to pass rush seems out of whack. And he did record six sacks last season, which seems kind of hard to do if you are not pass rushing. At least, that is my understanding. Odighizuwa probably helped his draft status more than any other UCLA player at the combine.

The bottom line would appear to be that there will be some pleased Bruins on draft day. I was pleased after getting through "running for classes", but I am guessing that they will have much more remunerative rewards from their 40 times than my success at scoring a computer card for Professor Hoxie's History 1A course.

These Bruins have given us good times at the Rose Bowl. Let's hope that they can continue at the next level.

Go Bruins !!