Preview: UCLA in the NFL Draft

Photos by Keith Birmingham (Pasadena Star-News) and SCNG file

Myles Jack (top left), Caleb Benenoch (top right), Kenny Clark (bottom left) and Jordan Payton (bottom right) are some of UCLA’s NFL Draft prospects this year. Photos by Keith Birmingham (Pasadena Star-News) and SCNG file

 

Some links in advance of the NFL Draft, which starts Thursday at 5 p.m.:

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UCLA Pro Day: Linebacker Myles Jack is ‘capable of greatness’

Here’s a roundup from today’s UCLA Pro Day, starting with the two stories set to run in tomorrow’s LANG newspapers …

» Myles Jack wasn’t at 100 percent on Tuesday, but Jim Mora said the linebacker is “capable of greatness.”
» Mora said he could envision 11 Bruins being drafted, which would nearly double UCLA’s record in the seven-round draft era.

And video interviews from …

LB/RB/DB Myles Jack:

Defensive tackle Kenny Clark:

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PHOTOS: UCLA Pro Day showcases Bruins for NFL Draft

Myles Jack said he was operating at around “80 percent” during UCLA Pro Day on March 15. The UCLA linebacker had declared for the NFL draft shortly after tearing his meniscus in September. (Thomas Cordova/Staff)

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UCLA LB Myles Jack wants to prove he’s not an ‘urban legend’

Myles Jack will enter the upcoming NFL draft as a consensus top-10 pick, about as sure a prospect as any franchise could hope for in the inexact science of talent evaluation.

For the past several months, the main concern for most scouts has been the health of Jack’s knee. On Tuesday, the former UCLA linebacker put himself through a number of drills during the Bruins’ Pro Day on campus — showing dozens of NFL personnel that the meniscus he tore six months ago is no longer a hindrance.

“That’s why it was so important for me to come out and show myself, show face,” he said. “Move around a little bit just to show people that it’s not like a myth or urban legend or anything. I’m really here. I can move around.”

Jack said he currently feels like he’s around “80 percent,” but was able to record a 40-inch vertical — a mark that would’ve tied for eighth-best among NFL Combine participants last month. However, that’s about three or four inches below what he would have been happy with.

He also held off on running a 40-yard dash. Instead, he plans to hold another workout in front of scouts on April 1.

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Mike Mayock: UCLA LB Myles Jack looks like a top-10 draft pick

Former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack (30) is trying to be one of the top players taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

After missing most of the 2015 season, former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack (30) is trying to become one of the top players taken in the 2016 NFL Draft. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Myles Jack won’t be a full participant in this week’s NFL combine, but that doesn’t mean he’ll last long in the 2016 draft.

According to NFL Networks analyst Mike Mayock, the former UCLA linebacker looks like a top-10 pick — as long as he is medically cleared after tearing his lateral meniscus back in September. Jack recently told ESPN that he will do the bench press and interview with teams in Indianapolis, and expects to be fully cleared for drills early next month.

Expected to be an All-America candidate as a junior this past season, Jack injured his knee after appearing in just three games for the Bruins.

“Even though his season was cut short by injury this year, the tape I watched I saw a different guy this year than in past years,” Mayock said. “He was more physical, more confident in his physicality, able to come down and take on guards, tackles, fullbacks. I saw a guy that was more of a finesse player earlier in his career turn into a true linebacker this year.”

One of nine UCLA players invited to the combine, Jack is unquestionably the program’s top pro prospect. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark is the only other player in the conversation to be a first-round pick.

That Jack proved himself to be a powerful college tailback as well — rushing for 380 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first two seasons — only makes him more attractive to NFL franchises, even if they have no intention to use him on offense.

“The more you can reinforce to yourself that he’s highly athletic and adaptable,” Mayock said, “the more you’re gonna like him.”

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