UCLA in the NFL: Jaguars, Vikings into championship rounds

Former UCLA linebackers Myles Jack and Anthony Barr each had interceptions in their respective teams’ divisional playoff victories on Sunday, helping the Jaguars and Vikings to the AFC and NFC championship games, respectively.

Barr had four tackles and one tackle for loss in Minnesota’s thrilling 29-24 win over the Saints while fellow former Bruin Eric Kendricks led the Vikings with 10 tackles.

Former UCLA kicker Kai Forbath made 3 of 4 field goals for the Vikings, including a 53-yarder that but Minnesota up by two with 1:29 to go. Drew Brees led the Saints on a field-goal drive to regain the lead, but Case Keenum‘s 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs as time expired pushed the Vikings into next Sunday’s NFC championship game at Philadelphia (3:40 p.m. PT).

Jack had six tackles in Jacksonville’s 45-42 win over Pittsburgh and picked off Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter after breaking up the pass and securing the catch while tapping his feet in bounds before falling out. The Jaguars face New England in the AFC championship on Jan. 21 at 12:05 p.m PT.

Other former Bruins in action:

  • Jayon Brown had one tackle in Tennessee’s 35-14 loss to the Patriots on Saturday.
  • Takkarist McKinley had two tackles, including one sack, in the Falcons’ 15-10 loss to the Eagles on Saturday.

Eric Kendricks becomes latest Bruin to join Minnesota Vikings

Four Bruins in three years. The Minnesota Vikings made that happen on Friday, picking yet another UCLA product by making linebacker Eric Kendricks their 45th overall pick.

The move reunites Kendricks with Anthony Barr, whom the Vikings took with the ninth overall pick in 2014. Both players won the Lott IMPACT Trophy as seniors, and Kendricks — who left UCLA as its all-time leading tackler — also won the Butkus Award.

“I feel like I just got drafted again,” Barr tweeted.

Kendricks had been projected as a potential late first-round selection, and didn’t figure to wait much longer in the second round. Only 12 other players heard their names called out in Chicago before him.

“I love his instincts and recognition skills,” said ESPN analyst Todd McShay. “I also think he’s the best cover linebacker in the entire draft.”

In addition to Barr and Kendricks, Minnesota drafted punter Jeff Locke and offensive lineman Jeff Baca in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, of the 2013 NFL draft.

No UCLA players taken in first round of NFL draft

In a historic haul for its conference, UCLA was left out.

While nine Pac-12 players were taken in the first round of the NFL draft, first-round hopefuls Eric Kendricks and Owa Odighizuwa will wait another day. The Bruin linebacker and defensive end had been projected as late-first or early second-round picks, and represented the program’s best chance at making a first-day splash for the third straight year.

Brett Hundley, regarded by some as the No. 3 quarterback available, could also be selected in either the second or third round.

The second day of the draft will start at 4 p.m. PT.

Where will the UCLA Bruins go in the 2015 NFL draft?

Former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley attends spring football practice at Spaulding Field on April 2, 2015. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

Former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley attends spring football practice at Spaulding Field on April 2, 2015. (Andy Holzman/Staff)

UCLA hasn’t produced three straight first-round picks since 1994-96, when Jamir Miller, J.J. Stokes and Jonathan Ogden all became top-10 selections.

The Bruins could finally match that streak again today. The NFL Draft starts at 5 p.m., and both linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa have a chance to be picked. (There’s a bit of buzz linking Kendricks to the Arizona Cardinals, but late-developing draft news could always be a smokescreen.) UCLA hasn’t produced two first-rounders in the same draft since 1981, Freeman McNeil and Kenny Easley went third and fourth overall.

Worth reading on Odighizuwa is this story from Tania Ganguli at ESPN: Owa’s mother, Abieyuwa, helped hold the family together in the wake of his father killing three people in a shooting at the Appalachian School of Law.

In today’s paper, I covered Brett Hundley being set to become the first UCLA quarterback drafted since Cade McNown in 1999, although that’s more likely happen tomorrow. Here are quick draft bios for the Bruins as well.