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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Johnathan Franklin’s draft wait ends, joins Datone Jones in Green Bay

Johnathan Franklin’s draft wait finally ended at the 125th overall pick, going to Green Bay as the fourth round’s 28th selection. UCLA’s career-leading rusher was the seventh running back off the board, and joined first-round pick Datone Jones as new Packers. It is the first time an NFL team took two Bruins in the same draft since 2006, when Jacksonville took Marcedes Lewis and Maurice Jones-Drew in the first and second rounds.

Franklin’s slide didn’t attract as much attention as USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who also fell to the fourth round, but — widely rated as a top-three tailback — he will likely to be one of the best values of the draft.

“One of the things I love about Franklin is the way he can pass-protect, which is rare,” said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “When you pay Aaron Rodgers the money you just paid him, you want to protect him.”

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Datone Jones: ‘I feel like I carried a torch’

On Thursday night, defensive end Datone Jones went to the Green Bay Packers as the 26th overall pick in the NFL draft. Here’s a quick Q&A with him done after the pick was announced.

Q: Did you get nervous waiting to be picked?

I knew I could go anywhere from 25 to 32. Once pick 24 came up, I thought I’d be an Indianapolis Colt. I fit really well into that at UCLA. I was pretty sure that I was going to Indy. It didn’t even cross my mind that I was going to Green Bay. Just wanted to happen, the experience of being a first pick, I’m so honored. I just can’t wait to dominate.

Q: How does it feel to break the first round drought? Did you talk to Marcedes Lewis at all leading up to this process?

I just can’t wait to dominate. All the teams that passed up on me before, I’m not going to use them as my motivation, but I just want them to know they missed out on a great pick. I’m going to do as much as I can. I’m going to work as hard as I can so I can bring a championship to Green Bay.

Q: Have you talked to Marcedes Lewis recently? Continue reading

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Packers take Datone Jones with 26th overall pick

UCLA’s first-round drought is finally over.

The Green Bay Packers took defensive end Datone Jones with the 26th overall pick of the NFL draft Thursday night, making him the first Bruin to go in the opening round since tight end Marcedes Lewis in 2006.

“If I was still coaching in the NFL, I would want Datone Jones on my team,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said this week.

Jones — a 6-foot-4, 283-pound defensive lineman — was one of several pass rushers taken in the first round. A versatile player who has seen time both as an inside and outside defender, he projects as a versatile lineman who can be useful in various schemes. The Packers were a popular landing spot for Jones in various mock drafts, and offer him an ideal situation as an end in their 3-4 defense.

He was also the fifth Pac-12 player drafted Thursday night.

“He’s my sleeper of the first round,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. “He has NFL skills. … The Packers need a dominant inside defender. Good pick.”

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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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Jones still drawing pre-NFL combine raves

UCLA hasn’t produced a first-round NFL draft pick since Marcedes Lewis went 28th overall in 2006. Will Datone Jones break that drought?

Since the Senior Bowl, the 6-foot-4, 275-pound lineman has generated some of the most positive chatter among draftniks. Here’s the latest from NFL.com, where Bucky Brooks pegged him as one of three defenders with the potential to make an immediate impact.

Looking at Jones’ game, it’s apparent that his combination of first-step quickness and power is what gives opponents problems at the line. Jones is simply too quick for lumbering interior blockers to handle without assistance from the center. He complements this quickness with explosive strength, allowing him to win with power or finesse on the inside.

Continue reading

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Barr returning for senior season

Happy new year, UCLA fans. Anthony Barr is officially staying one more season.

The Bruins’ best defensive player became an All-Pac-12 first team selection in just his first season at outside linebacker, and was also a second-team AP All-American. The junior was widely thought of as a potential first-round pick had he decided to declare for the NFL Draft.

Barr first officially announced his return on Twitter Monday afternoon: “As close as I am to my dream of playing in the NFL, I believe one more year with this awesome coaching staff and my teammates is what’s best. I will be returning for my senior season to further develop as a player and a person, to help lead this team to a Pac-12 Championship and ultimately a national championship.”

Measuring at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Barr made a remarkable transformation after switching from offense under former head coach Rick Neuheisel. Continue reading

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Anthony Barr: “If I were to have to choose today, I would probably stay.”

Anthony Barr talks NFL Draft by thejackwang

Was it hard to get over the Rose Bowl loss?

First couple of days after that loss were tough. We came back as a team, just kind of regrouped, talked about the season and the accomplishments we’ve made. Put that behind us and looked forward to this game. I think we’re all excited. I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’m glad it’s close to home.

How much are you thinking about the talk around declaring for the NFL Draft?

I’m trying not to think about it too much. I know it’s kind of getting to that time. Continue reading

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