Datone Jones could be a first round pick
The UCLA Bruins recently hosted their annual pro day, and it provided multiple players with a chance to enhance their prospective draft positioning.
Due to a very strong performance at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, Datone Jones opted to stick with his initial combine numbers. Similarly, Johnathan Franklin participated sparingly at the event in Westwood.
For players such as Joe Fauria, Jerry Johnson, Jeff Baca, Aaron Hester, Andrew Abbott and Sheldon Price, a platform was provided in order to truly display their talents for NFL scouts.
Here's a look at how the Bruins individually fared during the pro day on campus.
*Note: Jeff Locke will most likely be the first punter selected in the upcoming draft.
Abbott could be a nickelback on the next level
Pro Day Results: 5'9" 179 pounds; 4.62 40-yard dash
Abbott has never been known as a physical specimen. His individual game relies solely on intelligence and coverage ability. Truthfully, the former walk-on has probably been the Bruins' best cornerback the past two seasons. Out of necessity, he was forced to play as an undersized safety this past season.
While his overall size and speed is pretty underwhelming, he makes up for it with his impressive instincts and overall football acumen. Should he make an NFL roster, Abbott will most likely contribute on special teams, with an outside shot at playing as a nickelback.
It's doubtful that Abbott will be drafted, but it would not be a shock to see him make an NFL roster as an undrafted free agent.
Projected Draft Round: UFA
OL Jeff Baca
Pro Day Results: DNP
NFL Combine Results: 6'3" 305 pounds; 5.03 40-yard dash; 26 reps of 225; 26.5" vertical jump
As a four-year starter, Baca racked up 45 career starts for the Bruins. While he's played both as a tackle and center at points during his tenure in Westwood, he's definitively slated to be a guard on the next level. Baca is a fiery competitor. He's quick, agile and can pull well on run plays out in space.
Baca is also very good with his initial punch in pass protection. Strength could be an issue, but he performed well in the bench press portion of the combine.
Although not a physical specimen by any stretch, Baca's agility is above-average. His talents might be best showcased in a zone-blocking scheme.
Projected Draft Round: 5-6
NFL Combine Results: DNP (due to injury)
Pro Day Results: 6'7" 259 pounds; 4.72 40-yard dash; 17 reps of 225
There aren't too many surprises when it comes to Fauria. In essence, he is what he is. His immense size presents matchup problems for corners and safeties alike. Much of Fauria's production comes in the red zone, where he led the Bruins in touchdown catches this past year.
In addition, his value comes on short and intermediate routes. He won't be a receiver that exploits the seam down the heart of the field, nor will he be an exceptional blocker.
Unless Fauria's blocking improves, he's most likely destined to be a specialist on pass plays—namely in the red zone and on 3rd-and-short conversion attempts.
Projected Draft Round: 4-6
Pro Day Results: Did not participated in timed events but did work on agility and catching the ball.
NFL Combine Results: 5'10" 205 pounds; 4.49 40-yard dash; 18 reps of 225; 31.5" vertical jump; 9'7" in broad jump.
Franklin had a spectacular senior season. The All-American broke UCLA's all-time rushing record and also broke the record for most rushing yards in a single season. He was a true model of consistency, and really did improve steadily throughout his career.
At the combine, he flashed lightning-quick agility. While quicker than fast, he did put up a respectable time in the 40.
From an intangibles standpoint, Franklin is off the charts. He's a supremely mature and respected athlete. He's got the type of inspirational personality that could one day lead a locker room chock-full of veterans. Franklin is good at catching the ball out of the backfield. He's a dynamic player in space.
He reminds me of a mix between Ahmad Bradshaw and Warrick Dunn. Franklin runs bigger than he is, and runs with tremendous balance.
Projected Draft Round: 2
Hester making a nice play on the ball
NFL Combine Results: 6'2" 198 pounds; 4.62 40-yard dash; 29" vertical jump; 9'4" broad jump
Pro Day Results: 4.55 40-yard dash
Hester didn't have a great showing at the combine in Indianapolis. His 40 time ranked him towards the bottom for cornerbacks. He did look decent in drills, but running a 40 time above a 4.5 for a cornerback isn't ideal by any stretch.
From a physical standpoint, he's always looked the part. Couple that with the fact that he's a four-year starter, and it's been expected that Hester will be a future pro.
At this point, Hester might be better suited to make the switch over to safety. His size lends itself to the position—as does his penchant for committing pass interference penalties. At UCLA, he seemingly committed one P.I. foul per contest. Hester does have good bloodlines—as his relative is All-Pro Devin Hester. Improving his 40 time at the pro day only helps Hester.
Projected Draft Round: 6-7
Johnson eluding an SC defender
NFL Combine results: DNP (not invited)
UCLA Pro Day results: 6'2" 207 pounds; 4.50 40-yard dash; 36" vertical jump; 10'0" in broad jump; 10 reps of 225
Johnson was a bit of an enigma during his tenure in Westwood. He had all the physical tools in the world, yet he was consistently plagued by injury. There had also been questions about his work ethic, and overall desire to perform. This past year was his first real chance to play more than a spot role.
In terms of ability, he's more than capable of playing in the NFL. Unfortunately for Johnson, he doesn't have a ton of film to really look at past this season. However, he performed very well at the Pro Day. Based on his potential alone, he could be a late flyer for a team. More than likely, he'll get looks in NFL training camps.
Projected draft round: 7-UFA
Datone Jones helped his stock tremendously
NFL Combine Results: 6'4" 283 pounds; 4.80 40-yard dash; 29 reps of 225; 31.5" vertical jump
Pro Day Results: DNP
With the combination of Senior Bowl practices and the NFL combine in Indianapolis, there might have not been a player who helped their stock more than Jones did. Jones demonstrated great explosion and great technique during the Senior Bowl practices in Mobile.
Due to his strong performances, Jones' stock has been skyrocketing. Much of his appeal comes from his versatility. He has the ability to play in both a 3-4 or a 4-3 alignment. At times in college, he lined up as a rush defensive tackle. The majority of his time was spent out on the edge, where he diagnosed plays quite well. He led the Bruins this past season in tackles for loss.
Jones has the potential to be a longtime starter in the NFL.
Projected Draft Round: 1-2
DB Sheldon Price
NFL Combine Results: DNP (was not invited)
Pro Day Results: 6'2" 189 pounds; 4.42 40-yard dash; 39" vertical jump; 10'6" broad jump
Resembling a praying mantis as opposed to a defensive back, Price has had a bit of rocky career for UCLA. He was pressed into a starting role as a freshman—far before he was physically ready for the part. Price has been plagued by both a lack of consistency and a lack of physical strength.
Price does have all the physical tools one would want in a corner. However, he just didn't make a ton of plays and was affected by physical players—namely when attempting to jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage.
At the pro day, he helped himself out more than any of his former college teammates. He ran an incredibly fast 40 time and demonstrated his athleticism with very solid marks in both the vertical jump and the broad jump. It's safe to say that he made himself some money.
Projected Draft Round: 5-6