UCLA players looking to fulfill their dreams of playing in the NFL will get a chance to take a big step towards that goal today, as UCLA hosts its pro day. NFL pro days provide players an opportunity to show their best. Today, each player will work through a script tailored to best show off their skills. As NFL DraftScout.com analyst Dane Brugler says:
this week, each will have a chance to convince teams they have the traits worth drafting in the spring. With years of game film on record, teams know each very well, but a pro day is the type of setting that helps reinforce what the tape says.
So let's take a look at some of our players heading into the day.
CBS Sports has put together a list of "Risers and Fallers" following the NFL Combine. They also include a list of the five most intriguing players. And who could argue with their selection of Owamagbe Odighizuwa:
There may not be a more imposing physical specimen than the 6-3, 267 former Bruin, who enjoyed a spectacular combine performance, demonstrating explosiveness in the 40-yard dash (4.62) and vertical jump (39"), as well as agility in the shuttle drills (7.36 in the 3-cone). Odighizuwa comes with medical questions, however, as he'd undergone surgeries on both hips.
Based on Owa's performance and abilities, Brugler sees a chance that Owa might be a perfect pick at #22 for the Steelers:
With Jason Worilds set to hit free agency and Jarvis Jones not living up to his first round draft slot, pass rusher is a strong possibility here. Eli Harold and Odighizuwa are the top two options remaining and the UCLA edge rusher might be the better fit for Pittsburgh.
It seems Owa is now being called "Diggy". But he'll always be Owa to me (it's just more fun to chant). The Patriots may also be eyeing Owa/Diggy. Nick O'Malley from Masslive is really impressed with Owa:
The dude has explosiveness...
Coming off the ball, Odighizuwa combines explosiveness with raw power to get tackles on their heels and drives them back with a special type of bull rush (vs. Virginia, vs.Virginia, vs. ASU). He also has the technique to follow that up with a nice counter inside as well (vs. Virginia, vs. Texas, vs. ASU). While he wasn't the most prolific rusher at UCLA, he was a consistent menace in opposing backfields, collapsing pockets and hurrying quarterbacks.
What's more impressive than his explosiveness off the ball is how he combines that with disciplined play, particularly against the run. Odighizuwa is particularly good at setting the edge and controlling his blocker (vs. Virginia, vs. ASU) as well as playing his assignment on read option plays (vs. ASU, vs. ASU)
College Football 24/7 is running a "Path to the Draft" series which includes some great information and photos on Eric Kendricks and Brett Hundley. On their player sites, Path to the Draft highlights the work the two are doing to prepare for the draft, including their workout routines and some nice articles which speak highly both, including this on Kendricks:
The NFL club looking to draft a linebacker with a thirst for learning -- who loves to pick apart film and will answer to the school bell the game rings for all rookies -- would do well to take a long look at Eric Kendricks.
It also looks like Eric has some cool tools to use preparing for the draft:
According to Eric:
It's an interactive system that shows you run plays, pass plays, and it shows you the play for like half a second -- just the first initial steps, and you get choices on the bottom of what play it is. You have to give the right answer in a short amount of time. It's complicated, but you have to recognize formations and read run keys very fast.
Eric is working on some rehab in hopes of beating his Combine time (4.61) in the 40 today. Because of a slight injury, he chose to only run once. Despite this injury, Eric had a really strong performance at the Combine and is getting some great talk around the league. Bob Sturm who writes about the Cowboy's for the Dallas Morning News watched 200 or so clips on each player and had this to say about Kendricks:
I think he would be absolutely ideal for the Cowboys at the right spot because there are times those linebackers are attacked in coverage. Also, this is a clear all-situations guy (unlike Perryman) where you could leave him on the field regardless of situation because he has the skill set that can comfortably handle his responsibilities.
Some wonder if EK may be the solution to Green Bay's problems (someone other than Pete Carroll please stop Marshawn Lynch!). Green Bay has released two linebackers and may be looking to draft an ILB in the first round. There is also some chatter in Philadelphia, about Eric where his brother Mychal plays.
Speaking of Philly, there is also talk about Brett possibly going to the Eagles, but we will get to that later.
According to many, Brett Hundley has solidified his position as the third quarterback in this draft. Pro day will be an important day for Brett to put any questions to rest about his ability to play at the highest level in the NFL. Brett has decided to focus on throwing on pro day and will not do the drills again. Rick Neuheisel, sitting in for Rich Eisen, has a fun interview with Brett as he prepares for today. Brett talks about the teams he got to sit down with individually at the Combine, including the Eagles, the Rams, and the Chargers, how he sees his draft prospects, and his plan to put his best foot forward today. Brett also takes this opportunity to thank Coach Neuheisel for all he taught him. Nice.
Brett has been working with Kurt Warner since the Combine, as he continues to prepare for the draft:
UCLA QB Brett Hundley is preparing for his Pro Day by spending 2 weeks working with @kurt13warner in AZ. Smart followup to strong combine.— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) February 25, 2015
Working with the quarterback who has the third best completion percentage in NFL history, once again shows Brett's brilliance.
As for the Combine experience, Brett was really pleased with his performance and had a lot of fun:
I blew out everything I set out to do. Even my goals, I blew those away. Especially the shuttle time, I was surprised to see that. To have a time like that in something I worked really hard at, that was sweet. It was crazy but (the record) means a lot to me honestly. All that work that was put in and to know that I have the record for quarterbacks in the shuttle, that was special...
The one thing that caught me for a loop was out there throwing. You think of the combine as this no talking thing, but it was real fun and energetic. Everybody was cheering and rooting for each other. That had me relaxed and enjoying it.
Speaking of fun, check out how Brett lives the rest of his life. Dang, I wish I had seen these Bruins out there. Baron and I could have joined them.
One of the teams who might be interested in Brett is the Eagles. There is a possibility Philly may let Nick Foles go and some think Brett might just be perfect for Kelly's offense. It might also be fun for Hundley to play on the same field where his quarterback mentor Donavan McNabb played. If Brett had his choice, however, he says it would be a dream come true to play for his home team, the Arizona Cardinals. What we know for sure is that Brett will be one of the five quarterbacks featured on Jon Gruden's "QB Camp" where I expect Brett to really shine as he gets to break down film and show off his football knowledge. Before beginning his sessions with Brett, Gruden had this to say about #17:
Hundley helped put UCLA football back on the map. They were in trouble before he arrived. Really, what he did running and passing, taking over the city of Los Angeles the last three years, is a great accomplishment. And, for the Bruins to finish as a top-10 team, that puts an exclamation point on his career. A talented guy.
Other players also working to get into the NFL are Anthony Jefferson, Ellis McCarthy, and Jordan James. We will take a closer look at how they do in front of NFL scouts tomorrow.
And with the last word today:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Can wait till pro day tomorrow. Whatever is necessary to separate myself more, sign me up. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SettleForElilte?src=hash">#SettleForElilte</a></p>— owamagbe (@LPJ_Odighizuwa) <a href="https://twitter.com/LPJ_Odighizuwa/status/575115466781294592">March 10, 2015</a></blockquote>
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The comment thread would be a great place to share any other news you are hearing about out players going pro.
Have a great day, and as always...