Packers take Datone Jones with 26th overall pick

UCLA’s first-round drought is finally over.

The Green Bay Packers took defensive end Datone Jones with the 26th overall pick of the NFL draft Thursday night, making him the first Bruin to go in the opening round since tight end Marcedes Lewis in 2006.

“If I was still coaching in the NFL, I would want Datone Jones on my team,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said this week.

Jones — a 6-foot-4, 283-pound defensive lineman — was one of several pass rushers taken in the first round. A versatile player who has seen time both as an inside and outside defender, he projects as a versatile lineman who can be useful in various schemes. The Packers were a popular landing spot for Jones in various mock drafts, and offer him an ideal situation as an end in their 3-4 defense.

He was also the fifth Pac-12 player drafted Thursday night.

“He’s my sleeper of the first round,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. “He has NFL skills. … The Packers need a dominant inside defender. Good pick.”

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Where will Bruins go in NFL Draft?

DATONE JONES, DL
Size: 6-4, 283
Expected to go: Late 1st round

You can read more about Jones in today’s story on his draft prospects, but suffice it to say that the talented defensive end will likely become UCLA’s first first-round product since Marcedes Lewis in 2006. He impressed through fantastic post-season performances at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, and has even drawn comparisons to seven-time Pro Bowler Richard Seymour. A team like Green Bay at No. 26 or Denver at No. 28 could snatch him up.

JOHNATHAN FRANKLIN, RB
Size: 5-11, 195
Expected to go: 2nd round

Franklin reminds me of Shane Vereen, whom the Patriots took as a second-round pick out of Cal. Vereen rushed for 251 yards and three touchdowns in his first regular season. After running atop the UCLA record books, “The Mayor” could easily eclipse those numbers if he ends up on a team that doesn’t use as deep a backfield rotation as New England.

“You can use him in the passing game,” said Chris Burke, NFL writer for Sports Illustrated. “You don’t have to plan to pair him with someone else who’s a better blocker or a pass-catcher. …

“You’re not gonna give him the ball and expect him to move the pile five yards. If you can get him outside, let him find the hole and make the one cut, he certainly has enough speed and shiftiness.”

JEFF BACA, OL
Size: 6-3, 302
Expected to go: 5th round Continue reading

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Offensive guard Alberto Cid to take medical retirement

UCLA offensive guard Alberto Cid will likely take a medical retirement after suffering multiple concussions. The rising senior and former Citrus College transfer has missed nearly all of spring camp, and Tweeted yesterday that he thinks his career is over.

Cid started seven games in two seasons with the Bruins, including December’s Holiday Bowl loss to Baylor. He was listed as a starter at the beginning of spring before being sidelined.

“We’ve had discussions. As of last night, he was sitting down with his family and discussing where they wanted to go,” head coach Jim Mora said today. “I haven’t talked to him yet this morning. If that’s what he tweeted, and it’s the official Alberto Cid Twitter page, I guess I’ll address it on Saturday when I talk to him.”

» Rising sophomore linebacker Kenny Orjioke stood out to Mora as one player who has stood out over the latter half of spring camp.

“He’s still 17 years old,” Mora said. “He’s still maturing, but you’re starting to see it. … All of a sudden, he looks like an outside linebacker who can play and help you win at this level. We’re hoping he keeps developing.” Continue reading

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Allerik Freeman released in ‘mutual parting of ways’

Here is UCLA head coach Steve Alford’s official statement on the release of Allerik Freeman, who decommitted from the Bruins on Tuesday:

Allerik is a fine young man with a tremendous future ahead of him. My coaching staff and I are supportive of his decision, and we feel that a mutual parting of ways is the best solution. I wish Allerik nothing but the best as he begins his collegiate career next fall.

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Wednesday practice notes: Evans besting Adams

Cornerback Ishmael Adams was one of UCLA’s week-one stars, but has struggled more recently. Shaq Evans, in particular, seems to have made it his mission to abuse Adams after giving the redshirt freshman an earful of trash talk last week. On Wednesday, Evans’ best play was a tipped pass to himself for a score.

Adams should still be fine, but his lack of size is showing. He has also spent all of spring in a red jersey, but defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin said Adams could play a game now if necessary.

Evans, meanwhile, should figure to be a bigger red-zone target this season. Receivers coach Eric Yarber also said this about the senior: “I need him to be one of the leaders of the team. Even last year, all these young kids looked up to Shaq. If Shaq wasn’t having a good day, it was almost like the whole group wasn’t having a good day.”

» Jordan Payton likely remains ahead of Devin Lucien on the receiver depth chart heading into summer camp. Payton made a nice catch on Wednesday while double-covered by Anthony Jefferson and Dietrich Riley. Riley was consistently beaten in pass coverage, which may or may not be due to injury rust.

» Eldridge Massington is still rehabbing his ACL tear. He had a minor setback last week, but the main obstacle will likely be more mental than physical. Continue reading

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