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)

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.

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.”

UCLA sends nine players to 2016 NFL Scouting Combine

Linebacker Myles Jack (30) is one of nine former UCLA players who will participate in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in late February. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Linebacker Myles Jack (30) is one of nine former UCLA players who will participate in the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in late February. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

Nine former UCLA football players will participate in the NFL Scouting Combine later this month, by far the largest total of Jim Mora’s four-year tenure.

Linebacker Myles Jack, a likely first-round draft pick, leads a group that also includes: defensive tackle Kenny Clark; kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn; running back Paul Perkins; receivers Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte; and offensive linemen Jake Brendel, Caleb Benenoch and Alex Redmond. Ohio State and Notre Dame are the only college teams with more players set to appear at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, with 14 and 10, respectively.

Defending national champion Alabama will also send nine players to the Feb. 23-29 event.

UCLA had five participants in each of the last two NFL combines, and six in 2013. Only one Bruin, tight end Cory Harkey, was invited to the 2012 combine.

Weekly Q&A — 10/8/15 Answers

Q: Some people have suggested that Myles Jack’s decision to leave the team and focus on the draft will hurt him because it shows he isn’t a “team player”. Isn’t that the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?

A: Oh, I’ve heard dumber things. No one can question Myles Jack’s talent or potential, and he has a good chance to be a first-round pick even with his knee injury — which isn’t one that should severely limit him by the time he has to prove himself in pre-draft workouts. But is maturity a potential knock on Jack? Probably. It’s not that dropping out of school after a season-ending injury is so shocking in an of itself. I think Jack is better off focusing on rehabbing and training for the NFL draft, but front offices could certainly ask whether or not he could have waited until the end of the season to declare. Take that in context with his being ejected in three straight training camps — with the latest incident occurring in front of NFL scouts — and I don’t think it’s a complete non-factor. (I think those displays were also indicative of why he wasn’t voted a team captain despite his considerable abilities.)

Still, talent wins out in the end. Washington dismissed cornerback Marcus Peters last season, far more serious than anything Jack has done at UCLA. Peters was still taken No. 18 overall this past spring.

Q: What position do you think Myles Jack will play in the NFL? Outside linebacker? Strong safety?

A: I think he’ll stay at outside linebacker, maybe in a 4-3 scheme. His coverage ability is his best attribute, and that’s a premium skill at linebacker in today’s NFL. I think keeping him in the front seven is a better way to utilize his versatility, but he’s certainly a viable candidate to play strong safety too. It might depend on what the team that drafts him needs more badly.

Q: Who do you think will follow Myles to the NFL after this season? Will it be Kenny Clark or Eddie Vanderdoes or both? Continue reading “Weekly Q&A — 10/8/15 Answers” »