Predicting Former UCLA Players' 2014 NFL Combine Performance
The NFL Scouting Combine for the 2014 NFL Draft has begun in Indianapolis.
Five former UCLA Bruins—Anthony Barr, Shaq Evans, Cassius Marsh, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Jordan Zumwalt—will participate with the hopes of boosting their respective draft stocks.
Of the five, Barr is projected to be drafted in the early portion of the first round. Players such as Evans and Marsh could shoot up the draft board with strong individual efforts in Indianapolis.
Here's a look at how the former Bruins could fare at the combine.
Linebacker Anthony Barr (6'4", 245 lbs)
Barr figures to perform very impressively at the combine in Indy. The all-world athlete is an absolute freak from a physical capacity.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com reported Barr ran a 4.44 40-yard dash last spring at 244 pounds. Those numbers for an outside linebacker are absolutely astounding.
Barr's exploits on the football field are known to every scout. The consensus All-American was able to rack up 23.5 sacks and 41.5 tackles for loss in the past two seasons. Prior to that, the talented defender was oddly enough a little-used wide receiver under former coach Rick Neuheisel.
At this point, he's battling Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack to be the first linebacker selected in the draft. Teams will likely want to see how Barr can move in space. Although a prolific pass-rusher, displaying strong cover skills could propel him even higher.
Regardless, it'd be a shock to see Barr drop out of the top 10.
Wide receiver Shaq Evans (6'1", 213 lbs)
Of the five, Evans could help out his cause the most with a strong showing in individual drills.
UCLA employed an array of different receivers within its spread offense, since no single pass-catcher really stood out from the rest. Evans was the unquestioned top guy, but he didn't produce overly impressive numbers.
Evans' 40 time will go a long way in determining whether or not he could even be drafted. A time of at least 4.5 would be great for the receiver.
I do think Evans can be a prototypical No. 3 receiver for an NFL franchise. He's fast, physical, adept at blocking out on the edge and plays extremely hard. Early in his career, he could be a very good special teams player.
Depending on his 40-yard dash time, expect Evans to get drafted potentially in the sixth round.
Defensive end/outside linebacker Cassius Marsh (6'4", 260 lbs)
Marsh is one of the more interesting prospects in the draft.
He lined up exclusively as a defensive end for the Bruins. Possessing good overall athleticism, Marsh also has a very good motor. He's constantly in the thick of things when pursuing ball-carriers. However, the fiery competitor does have a tendency to sometimes let his emotions get the best of him.
Marsh most likely isn't big enough to be an every-down defensive end. He'll likely have to transition into a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. Essentially, he's a bit of a "tweener."
At the combine, Marsh will have to display cover abilities in space. He'll also need to demonstrate adept change-of-direction skills.
His athleticism should allow for a smooth transition. With his passion for the game and his knack for being around the ball, Marsh should go in the fifth round. If one team does fall in love with him, he could be a fourth-round selection.
Offensive guard Xavier Su'a-Filo (6'4", 307 lbs)
The mature prospect from Pleasant Grove, Utah will be 23 years old when drafted. His advanced age is likely a big reason why Su'a-Filo entered the draft after his junior campaign.
Su'a-Filo will bring tons of versatility to any organization. Out of necessity, Su'a-Filo played as a left tackle for the majority of the 2013 season. In the NFL, he'll likely get slotted back inside at his natural guard position.
The AP second-team All-American is a very intelligent and cerebral football player. Notwithstanding, Su'a-Filo has very good feet and lateral quickness. "X" should be able to run a solid 40 and also display a good shuttle time.
His 25 reps in the bench press bested fellow prospects David Yankey, Cyrus Kouandjio, Ja'Wuan James, Jake Matthews and Marcus Martin, among others.
Su'a-Filo should be drafted as a second-round pick, with an outside shot at being drafted in the first round.
I expect "X" to have a long and prosperous career in the NFL. He's a high-character individual—a quality valued dearly by successful NFL franchises.
Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (6'4", 235 lbs)
Zumwalt is another versatile prospect, having the ability to play multiple positions on the field. Depending on the package, Zumwalt could play an outside 'backer. His natural position, however, is in the middle.
An aspect sticking out about Zumwalt is his enthusiasm on the field. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native plays violently and aggressively. His overall intensity was on full display at Senior Bowl practices.
Performing well in change-of-direction drills could mitigate any concerns about his ability to cover in space. Zumwalt's straight-line speed is impressive, but his lateral agility is questionable at this point.
Should Zumwalt test well in those categories, he could enhance his value considerably. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Zumwalt drafted somewhere in the third round.
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