Five Bruins invited to NFL Combine

Eddie Vanderdoes (47) talks with Kenny Young (42) at practice. Photo by Steve McCrank/Daily Breeze

Five former UCLA football players received invites to his month’s NFL Combine, the NFL announced Wednesday: linebacker Jayon Brown, offensive lineman Conor McDermott, defensive end Takkarist McKinley, defensive back Fabian Moreau and defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes.

The combine begins Feb. 28 in Indianapolis with 330 total participants.

McKinley is a potential late first-round draft pick by many mock drafts after he led the Bruins in sacks and tackles for loss last year.

Vanderdoes was the only player to declare for the NFL draft early this season after the redshirt junior came back from an ACL injury and started 12 games with 29 tackles against constant double teams. Going into the Senior Bowl, Vanderdoes told Sports Illustrated that he had lost 20 pounds since the end of the UCLA season when he played at 340 pounds.

An impressive showing at the East-West Shrine Game helped Moreau boost his draft stock as NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he was “not going to be shocked if Moreau goes in the first round.” He was the No. 47 prospect in Jeremiah’s top-50 list last week.

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UCLA football links: Latest mock drafts

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley celebrates UCLA’s 38-20 win over USC on Saturday night. (Keith Birmingham/Staff)

With the end of the NFL season officially over, teams are turning their attention to April’s NFL draft.

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley is the most popular first-round pick for the Bruins as he’s projected as a late first-rounder by CBS Sports (No. 30 to the Steelers), Sports Illustrated (No. 29, Packers) and NFL.com (No. 31, Falcons). ESPN’s Todd McShay has McKinley at No. 23 to the Giants, while Rotoworld has the defensive end slotted at No. 16 to the Ravens.

In Sports Illustrated’s three-round mock draft, McKinley is the only UCLA prospect listed, however, cornerback Fabian Moreau gets the Cowboys’ draft pick at No. 60 in Walter Football mock draft with Conor McDermott going at No. 105 overall to the Bengals.

Moreau drew rave reviews after the Shrine Game last month and that helped boost his stock. He jumped into NFL.com’s list of top 50 prospects, checking in at No. 47, following McKinley at No. 23.

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Final tally: Eight Bruins picked in NFL Draft

Here’s the final list of UCLA players who who picked in the NFL Draft this weekend. Eight is a UCLA record since the draft went to seven rounds in 1994 and most for the program since 1988.

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Devin Fuller is eighth Bruin taken in NFL Draft, heading to Atlanta

Former UCLA receiver Devin Fuller. Photo by Wily Low // AP

Former UCLA receiver Devin Fuller. Photo by Wily Low // AP

Former UCLA wide receiver Devin Fuller was drafted as the 17th pick in the seventh round (238th overall) by the Atlanta Falcons. The speedy receiver had 24 catches for 259 yards last season with three touchdowns. He also handled punt and kick return duties, averaging 11.8 yards on punt returns and 24.4 yards on kick returns.

He was the third Bruins picked in the seventh round (after linebacker Aaron Wallace and tight end Thomas Duarte) and the eighth UCLA player selected overall. It is already the largest draft class from UCLA ever since the draft went to a seven-round format. It’s also the most since 1988 when the Bruins had 10 players taken.

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Dolphins pick UCLA TE Thomas Duarte in seventh round

Former UCLA receiver/tight end Thomas Duarte. Photo by Keith Birmingham // Pasadena Star News

Former UCLA receiver/tight end Thomas Duarte. Photo by Keith Birmingham // Pasadena Star News

Tight end Thomas Duarte went to Miami Dolphins as the 10th pick in the seventh round.

The 6-foot-2, 231-pound tight end led the Bruins in touchdown receptions last year with 10. He had 53 catches for 872 yards (both were second on the team). Duarte was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection during his junior year, after which he left school early to declare for the draft.

Duarte fell to the seventh round after being projected as more of a fourth-to-sixth-round pick.

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