Punter Jeff Locke becomes third Bruin drafted

The Minnesota Vikings took Jeff Locke with the 22nd pick of the fifth round, making him the third UCLA player drafted in 2013 and the first punter. Selected 155th overall, Locke will compete with Vikings incumbent Chris Kluwe — a fellow Bruin signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005.

Locke’s punt average of 44.2 yards ranks second in school history.

UPDATE: Kluwe will likely get cut, but told ESPN1500 that he’s eager to compete. He also tweeted the following.

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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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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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Fauria left off Phil Steele’s All-Pac-12

Here are the Bruins that made Phil Steele’s All-Pac-12 teams:

OFFENSE
1st: RB Johnathan Franklin, OL Xavier Su’a-Filo
2nd: OL Jeff Baca
3rd: WR Shaquelle Evans
DEFENSE
1st: LB Anthony Barr
2nd: DT Datone Jones, LB Eric Kendricks
SPECIAL TEAMS
1st: P Jeff Locke
3rd: KR Damien Thigpen, PR Steven Manfro (Huh?!)

The most glaring omission is senior Fauria, who was left off despite being one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award — given to the top tight end in the nation. I get that Fauria isn’t a true blocking tight end anymore, but he was tied for second in the conference with 11 touchdown receptions. Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, who got the third team nod, grabbed just five and only had 11 more yards per game (54.9 to 43.2).

On the bright side for UCLA fans, Franklin made first team with Kenjon Barner, beating out Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey. This could bode well for Franklin’s chances at the last remaining NCAA-recognized All-American list: the Football Writers Association of America releases its team later this week, and Steele is on the committee.

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Seven Bruins on All-Pac-12 first and second teams

You can find the full list here, but let’s run through UCLA’s selections. (The awards are voted on by Pac-12 head coaches.)

First team: LB Anthony Barr, OL Xavier Su’a-Filo, P Jeff Locke
Second team: RB Johnathan Franklin, OL Jeff Baca, DL Datone Jones, David Allen on special teams
Honorable mentions: DB Andrew Abbott, OL Jake Brendel, WR Shaq Evans, TE Joseph Fauria, QB Brett Hundley, LB Eric Kendricks, DL Cassius Marsh, RS Damien Thigpen

Franklin didn’t make first team despite becoming UCLA’s new career leading rusher, but that’s what happens when you play in the same conference as Kenjon Barner. The big snub here is sophomore Eric Kendricks, who was only an honorable mention despite leading the Pac-12 with 127 tackles for 10.6 per game. ASU’s second-teamer Brandon Magee was second with 9.5 per game (104 overall), but he did have 6.5 sacks to Kendricks’ two.

Eric isn’t as explosive as his brother Mychal, who won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year last year, but has a very solid all-around game. He’ll likely be good in the NFL, even if he doesn’t absolutely wreck guys weekly like Anthony Barr.

UCLA got left out of the big conference awards (listed below), but no real issues with any of these picks. Jim Mora had a very good argument for Coach of the Year, but had the tough luck of reviving a program during in a year Stanford upset Oregon without Andrew Luck. Besides, Mora has the chance for a last laugh on Friday.

Offensive Player of the Year: Marqise Lee, USC
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sutton, Arizona State
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Leonard Williams, USC
Coach of the Year: David Shaw, Stanford

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Abbott finalist for Burlsworth Trophy

A low-profile, but interesting award given to the nation’s best player who started his career as a walk-on. You can also vote for Andrew Abbott, which counts for five percent during each round. Finalists will be announced on Nov. 27, and the winner on Dec. 3.

Pac-12 All-Academic teams were also released yesterday. Jeff Locke (3.70, Economics) made first team for the third time, and was joined by freshman center Jake Brendel (3.60, Math/Applied Sciences). Steve Manfro (3.20, undeclared) was the Bruins’ lone representative on the second team. As announced in June, UCLA ranked third in academic progress rate among conference members.

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Belated awards roundup

Johnathan Franklin is one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Oregon’s Kenjon barner are also up for the nation’s top running back honor. The 174-member selection committee is made up mostly of journalists, along with former players and other representatives. The winner will be revealed on Dec. 6 on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Joseph Fauria wasn’t a finalist for the Mackey Award, which quarterback Brett Hundley was disappointed about. Jeff Locke wasn’t a finalist for the Ray Guy Award either, which is even more of a snub.

Eric Kendricks won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after logging eight tackles, one TFL, one forced fumble, a blocked punt and a pick against USC. He doesn’t pop as quite much as Anthony Barr when you’re watching the game, but Kendricks is so consistent across the statsheet almost every week.

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