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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UCLA pro day results

UCLA’s pro day on March 12 was closed to both fans and media, but NFL.com has some of the results. Johnathan Franklin caught the ball well, while Datone Jones may be shaping up to as a 4-3 defensive end in the pros. Punter Jeff Locke was also compared favorably to Bryan Anger, whom the Jacksonville Jaguars reached for in the third round last year.

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Pro day closed to media, public

As it was last year, UCLA’s pro day on March 12 will again be closed to the media and the public. Tight end Joseph Fauria probably has the most to gain after sitting out the majority of NFL combine workouts with a pulled groin. The latest mock drafts from CBS Sports and SI.com both have Datone Jones in the first round.

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NFL Combine Roundup

The can’t-miss moment of the NFL Combine was SBNation’s glorious video of linemen running the 40-yard dash to “Chariots of Fire.” UCLA’s Jeff Baca makes an appearance 20 seconds in. Watch it if you haven’t already.

If you’re looking for something more substantive, here are the results from the Bruins’ workouts. Continue reading

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