How UCLA football balances NFL draft picks and wins

Takkarist McKinley was one of five UCLA players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. (Photo by Getty Images)

Last weekend was another successful NFL Draft for UCLA as five Bruins heard their names called during the three-day event.

Since Jim Mora took over prior to the 2012 season, UCLA is one of seven Pac-12 schools to have at least one player drafted every year. The Bruins have sent 25 players to the NFL through the draft in that time, the most for any school in the conference.

What was that NFL talent able to accomplish at UCLA?

UCLA’s 41 wins during the Mora era are the most for any UCLA head coach during a five-year span, but still ranks only fifth in the Pac-12 since 2012. Here’s a look at how each Pac-12 team has done in the draft and on the field in the past five seasons.

The total wins since 2012 are plotted on the horizontal axis while the total draft picks, starting with the 2013 NFL Draft, are plotted on the vertical axis. Continue reading “How UCLA football balances NFL draft picks and wins” »

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UCLA sends 5 to NFL through draft, 6 as free agents

UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley carries a photograph of his grandmother onstage after being selected by the Atlanta Falcons during the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

As UCLA finished its month of spring practices, the program also sent five players to the next level through the NFL Draft before six more signed with teams are undrafted free agents.

Led by first-round pick Takkarist McKinley, UCLA’s five picks were tied for the second most from a Pac-12 school in the 2017 draft. Utah led the conference with eight picks while USC and Washington each had five. Michigan led the nation with 11.

McKinley, whose emotional reaction to getting drafted won the Internet on Thursday night, will reportedly not earn a fine from the NFL after the new Atlanta Falcon dropped an f-bomb on live television.

Cornerback Fabian Moreau and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes both heard their names called in the third round on Friday. Moreau, whose recent pectoral injury may have hurt his draft stock, was picked 81st overall by the Washington Redskins after he was projected by some as a low first-round draft pick before injury. Vanderdoes gets to return to Northern California as he was selected 88th overall by the Oakland Raiders.

Linebacker Jayon Brown and offensive lineman Conor McDermott rounded out the UCLA field in the draft, going to the Tennessee Titans in the fifth round and the New England Patriots in the sixth round, respectively.

UCLA’s half-dozen undrafted free agents who signed with teams:

  • WR Kenneth Walker III: Jacksonville Jaguars
  • DT Eli Ankou: Houston Texans
  • DB Marcus Rios: Denver Broncos
  • DB Randall Goforth: Philadelphia Eagles
  • WR/DB/KR Ishmael Adams: LA Rams
  • OLB Deon Hollins: Denver Broncos
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Eddie Vanderdoes drafted 88th overall by Oakland Raiders

Former UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes is going back to Northern California.

The Auburn, Calif., native was picked by the Oakland Raiders on Friday in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft with the 88th overall selection.

Coming off an ACL tear that ended his 2015 season after only one game, Vanderdoes started all 12 games in 2016, but racked up only 29 tackles going against constant double teams.

He was hampered by small injuries throughout what would be his final season in Westwood, dealing with a sprained knee and ankle. By the time the former five-star recruit resurfaced at the Senior Bowl, Vanderdoes had shed about 20 pounds after he played at 340 pounds during the season. When he participated in UCLA’s Pro Day, he weighed in at 301 pounds.

Vanderdoes’ UCLA teammates shared their congratulations:

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Fabian Moreau drafted 81st overall to Washington Redskins

UCLA defensive back Fabian Moreau runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, March 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

UCLA cornerback Fabian Moreau was drafted 81st overall in the 2017 NFL Draft on Friday, going to the Washington Redskins in the third round.

After starring at the East-West Shrine Game and running a 4.35 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, Moreau suffered a chest injury at UCLA’s Pro Day that required surgery. The injury may have damaged his draft stock in a deep group of draft-eligible defensive backs as he was considered a possible late first-round prospect. The 19 defensive backs (10 cornerbacks and nine safeties) taken in the first two rounds were the most for a single draft in the common era. Moreau, who was the 12th cornerback taken, is expected to be healthy for training camp.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock commended the pick, saying Washington “got a starting corner” in Moreau, despite the uncertainty surrounding the injury.

The former running back led the team with 10 passes broken up, with 12 passes defensed. He earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a sophomore and followed that up with second-team all-conference honors as a junior. After a Lisfranc injury put a premature end to his senior year, Moreau came back in 2016 to lead the team with 10 passes broken up, with 12 passes defensed. He was named an honorable mention All-Pac-12.

Moreau is the first defensive back to be drafted out of UCLA since free safety Rahim Moore went in the second round (45th overall) to Denver.

UCLA teammates and coaches sent their congratulations on social media:

Continue reading “Fabian Moreau drafted 81st overall to Washington Redskins” »

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Takkarist McKinley goes 26th overall to Atlanta

Takkarist McKinley was drafted 26th overall by the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday. (Photo by Thomas R. Cordova, Press-Telegram/ Daily Breeze/SCNG)

Takkarist McKinley fulfilled his promise.

The former UCLA defensive end carried a framed photograph of his late grandmother Myrtle Collins with him on stage at the NFL Draft in Philadelphia on Thursday night after the Atlanta Falcons traded up to take him 26th overall.

McKinley, known for the undying motor and electric energy that led him to a team-high 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last year, couldn’t contain his emotions moments after hearing his name called.

“This is who I’m doing it for,” McKinley exclaimed on NFL Network while holding the photo of Collins, who passed away in 2011. “I made a promise to her and I stuck to it. I told her before she passed away that I was going to live my dream. I was going to go D-I, I was going to get out of Richmond, I was going to get out of Oakland, I was going to go to the NFL. Thirty seconds later, she passed away.

“This means (expletive) everything,” he continued on the live broadcast. Realizing his mistake, McKinley added “fine me later.”

With a deep breath, still clutching the photo of Collins, McKinley collected his emotions and finished: “We did it. I love you, Grandma. It’s only the beginning.”

McKinley is UCLA’s fourth first-round draft pick in the past five years.

More on McKinley’s big night

His teammates and coaches at UCLA posted their congratulations on Twitter:

Continue reading “Takkarist McKinley goes 26th overall to Atlanta” »

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