Vikings draft offensive lineman Jeff Baca

To continue the NFC North’s ongoing love affair with UCLA, the Minnesota Vikings picked offensive lineman Jeff Baca in the sixth round, 196th overall. He joins fellow Bruin Jeff Locke in Minnesota, while former teammates Datone Jones and Johnathan Franklin will chase their pro dreams less than 300 miles east in Green Bay.

Baca can play almost anywhere on the line, but has a bad penalties habit. He is the first UCLA offensive lineman drafted since 1999, when Pittsburgh took Kris Farris in the third round. Baca’s selection also marked the first time more than three Bruins were drafted since 2005.

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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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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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NFL Combine drills start Saturday

The NFL Combine’s first set of workouts took place Friday, and former UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria participated with 17 bench press reps — tied for 10th at his position.

Saturday is when the real fun begins, as offensive linemen and tight ends do their field work. Running backs, quarterbacks and receivers will also compete in the bench press. Here are the rest of the Bruins in Indianapolis this weekend, with ratings and analysis from their profiles on NFL.com.

DL Datone Jones — 85.6 — “Going forward, Jones needs to do a better job of anchoring, or disengaging once his intial surge is halted. However, his immense physical talent and extremely productive senior season should make him an early selection.”
Pro comparison: Cory Redding Continue reading

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Three for Three with Jeff Baca

On getting Nick Ekbatani back:
“To get him back means more competition, more rotating, and it is killer. He’s a senior, a returting starter, the only guy who started 12 games last year, and he’s a special player.”

On being forced into action last year:
“The experience I got last year was awesome – they didn’t want to use me; last year the plan was for me to redshirt when I first came in. But its football and I ended up getting thrown in there. That experience is huge. I know so much about the game because of those eight games last year. I see stuff and I know stuff just from experience.”

On having a seven- or eight-man offensive line:
“I’ve never been around an offensive line like this. Last year, we did not have an eight-guy line. We just didn’t have the depth. This year, it’s different to me. Coming out of high school, you have your starting five, and that’s just your starting five. Where he’s from, the NFL, you have an eight-man line and they rotate. I’m a big fan of that.”

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Three for Three with Jeff Baca

On missing practice with pink eye:
“I’ll be back tomorrow. I’ve been on antibiotics all day. They just needed to get me past the contagious period. I just tried to teach guys and give guys tips that are playing in my spot. I try to help and take mental reps on the sideline if I’m not going to be able to take physical reps.”

On preparing without a game this week:
“You still…it’s just like how do you gear up for the weight room in January when you don’t have a game until September? You just kind of got to do it. It’s the same thing this week. We know we’re going to have a game coming up soon. Instead of three days it’s 10 days. It’s just something that you’ve got to do and get ready for because you know another one is coming. You can’t slack off at all.”

On Nick Ekbatani’s return and potential starting role:
“Coach isn’t vocal about stuff like that. He hasn’t said anything or told us anything. I actually have no idea how that’s going to change things. Today I just know that they rotated in, trying to get guys reps and I know that he (Ekbatani) is a senior. We’ll see from there.”

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Leftovers

Wayne Moses on the “revenge” factor:
You talk about personnel and personalities and everything, and really, the guys who are going to decide it are between the lines. All the, ‘He said, they said’ – we need to get to be 2-0. Whoever that is in front of us, we need to be 2-0.”

Korey Bosworth on the similarities between last year and this year:
“It’s a totally new team. They have a home game, which is a completely new thing. It’s a whole different factor when you have to leave your home field. We really have to throw everything out the window. Wipe your hands clean, start fresh.”

Korey Bosworth on revenge:
“I’m sure they’ve got that in their minds. But we have that in our minds, too; that nobody thinks we can win. Even last year, nobody thought we could win. When we did, a lot of jaws dropped. But people still doubt us.”

Jeff Baca on pregame hype:
“We’re all buying into this. We have to get this program back to the top, where it belongs. Hopefully, this is our season right here. This is our hype, bringing UCLA back up to the top.”

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Two for Two with Jeff Baca

On his preference, right tackle or left guard:
“I think it’s still up in the air – I think I’ll find out once I settle down and play a position. I don’t have a preference. It’s not an adjustment that’s too drastic.”

On how UCLA’s planned zone blocking schemes will help him switch back and forth:
“Being in this scheme is pretty universal, everybody almost has the same job. That helps a lot, switching positions. The gap zone part of it, I wouldn’t say it’s easier, but if you just play your gaps, you’re good.”

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