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.

UCLA in the NFL: Brett Hundley takes over in Green Bay

Former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley (right) will start for the Green Bay Packers after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone against the Minnesota Vikings. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Brett Hundley is finally getting his NFL shot. The longtime Aaron Rodgers understudy was elevated to QB1 last Sunday after Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone that could keep him out for the rest of the season.

After entering the game in the first quarter, Hundley threw an interception on his first pass attempt. He finished with 157 passing yards on 18-for-33 passing, one touchdown and three interceptions in Green Bay’s 23-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Hundley told reporters after the game that it was hard to see Rodgers go down, but that he had been “preparing for this moment for a long time now.”

“Obviously we didn’t get the job done today, but we’ll be better,” Hundley said. “We’ll be better.” Continue reading “UCLA in the NFL: Brett Hundley takes over in Green Bay” »

UCLA links: Bruins in NFL preseason games

Jayon Brown led the Pac-12 in tackles last year and picked up right where he left off in his NFL preseason debut with the Tennessee Titans on Saturday. In his team’s 7-3 loss to the New York Jets, Brown led the Titans with four tackles in the first half with one for loss. The Tennessean wrote that Brown was among the Titans players who helped their stock the most during the first preseason game.

Fellow former UCLA linebacker Aaron Wallace also impressed for the Titans with five total tackles (four solo), 0.5 sacks and two tackles for loss in the game.

News on other former Bruins in the NFL:

  • Quarterback Brett Hundley played the first half Green Bay’s 24-9 win over Philadelphia. The quarterback was 8 for 15 passing for 90 yards with touchdown and interception. From the Wisconsin State-Journal: Hundley got off to a slow start, hampered by a fumble from Ty Montgomery and three dropped passes, came back to finish the half strong.
  • Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes earned the start and had one tackle in this NFL preseason debut for the Raiders and is position to start when the real games begin next month. From The San Francisco Chronicle: Quarterback Derek Carr compared Vanderdoes to Justin Tuck.
  • Cornerback Fabian Moreau missed Washington’s preseason opener, but returned to practice Saturday as a full participant after he suffered a pectoral injury at UCLA’s Pro Day in March.

Titans pick UCLA’s Jayon Brown in 5th round of NFL draft

Jayon Brown had to be pleased to hear his name called as early as the 11th pick of the fifth round.

The UCLA linebacker was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 155th overall pick of the NFL draft on Saturday, near the top of his projected range. The undersized linebacker, who led the Pac-12 with 119 tackles last season, was worth the Titans trading their fifth- and sixth-round picks to the Eagles in order to move up nine spots to select Brown.

An athletic linebacker good in coverage and a solid tackler with his 6-foot, 231-pound frame, Brown has hope to quickly find his way into Titans packages designed to defend the pass.

READ: Jayon Brown can help Titans’ weakness in the middle

When former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack went down with a torn meniscus in September of Brown’s junior season, he filled in well enough to lead UCLA with 93 tackles. He was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a senior and impressed the Titans enough to warrant selection near the top of his projected range in the draft. It didn’t hurt Brown that Titans linebackers coach Lou Spanos was the defensive coordinator at UCLA his freshman season.

Concerns about Brown’s lack of size and ability to shed larger lead blockers in the NFL made him a probable late-round pick ranging from the fifth to the seventh round. Going to the Titans near the top of the fifth was close to best-case scenario for Brown. The Titans traded the 20th pick of the fifth round and 31st pick of the sixth round to the Eagles for the 11th pick of the fifth round.

Tennessee needs help defending the pass in the middle of the field, where he will fit nicely as an athletic inside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme. He had six passes defensed each of the last two seasons at UCLA. Brown also has a knack for causing turnovers, intercepting three passes and recovering two fumbles last season alone.

Football links: Former UCLA Bruins await NFL Draft fate

Several former UCLA players are hoping to hear their names called at the NFL Draft this weekend, including, clockwise from top left: Takkarist McKinley, Fabian Moreau, Jayon Brown, Eddie Vanderdoes and Conor McDermott. (Photos by Thomas R. Cordova/SCNG; Jae C. Hong/AP; Sam Craft/AP; Ronald Martinez/Getty Images; John McCoy/SCNG)

UCLA has another chance at a first-round draft pick and the Bruins are hoping that it will end better this year than last.

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley will be in the green room Thursday for the first round of the NFL Draft in Philadelphia, which starts at 5 p.m. PT and is televised on ESPN and NFL Network. McKinley will be joined by UCLA head coach Jim Mora and defensive line coach Angus McClure as he awaits his NFL fate.

Mora said seeing the culmination of McKinley’s dream is “going to be awesome,” but he also recognized the unpredictability of the NFL Draft. Only a year ago, the coach was with former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack when Jack slipped all the way to the second round after being projected as a sure-fire first-rounder.

“The draft though, it’s a beast,” Mora said. “You don’t have any idea. It’s a crap shoot, you don’t have any idea where you’re going to get picked. Hopefully it works out for Takk.”

McKinley is not the only hopeful Bruin this weekend. Cornerback Fabian Moreau is expected to be a high second-day pick, likely going in the second round. Defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, offensive lineman Conor McDermott and linebacker Jayon Brown are likely third-day guys.

The second day of the draft (the second and third rounds) starts at 4 p.m. PT on Friday and the event wraps up Saturday with the fourth through seventh rounds, starting at 9 a.m. PT.

Here are links to prepare for the NFL Draft: Continue reading “Football links: Former UCLA Bruins await NFL Draft fate” »