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.

UCLA receivers trying to fill big void

The notebook from Monday’s practice was focused on the receiving group and the unit’s search for a leader. The Bruins need to fill a very large void left by Jordan Payton and Thomas Duarte, who were the team’s top two receivers last year.

Below are two charts of how some of the receiving numbers broke down last year. The left pie is a representation of the total receiving yards or catches by UCLA receivers last year. The yellow slices represent players who are not with the team anymore, while the big blue slice on the left represents the production of the receivers who are returning for 2016, and that total is further broken down in the right pie. Neither chart includes totals from running backs. Continue reading “UCLA receivers trying to fill big void” »

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 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.

UCLA receiver Thomas Duarte joins list of NFL draft departures

UCLA Bruins wide receiver Thomas Duarte #18 looks at USC Trojans linebacker Su'a Cravens #21 after scoring a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. Cross town rivals USC and UCLS met at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. 11/28/2015 (photo by John McCoy/Los Angeles News Group)

UCLA receiver Thomas Duarte (18) is the latest Bruin to forgo his senior season in favor of the NFL draft. He led the team with 10 touchdown catches as a junior. (John McCoy/Staff)

UCLA receiver Thomas Duarte has become the latest Bruin to declare for the NFL draft.

His father, Tim, told the Orange County Register on Tuesday that the 6-foot-3, 225-pound inside receiver had filed his official paperwork a day earlier — after receiving a third-round grade on his draft evaluation. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s recent departure for Texas A&M, he said, was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” in terms of Duarte’s decision.

As a junior, Duarte excelled in Mazzone’s spread offense, working the middle of the field and becoming the team’s most dangerous red zone target. After totaling seven scoring catches through his first two seasons, the Fullerton native found himself on the receiving end of 10 of freshman quarterback Josh Rosen’s 23 touchdown passes.

UCLA will enter next season with just one player who made at least a dozen catches in 2015: soon-to-be redshirt junior Darren Andrews, who recorded 42 catches for 429 yards and a score.

Duarte is the sixth UCLA underclassmen to enter the draft. Linebacker Myles Jack — who suffered a season-ending meniscus tear — and offensive guard Alex Redmond both left the team before the end of the season, while defensive tackle Kenny Clark, running back Paul Perkins and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch declared shortly after the Bruins’ loss to Nebraska in the Foster Farms Bowl last month.

Only three players had left early after head coach Jim Mora’s first three seasons: offensive lineman Xavier Su’a Filo (No. 33 overall, 2014), quarterback Brett Hundley (fifth round, 2015), and defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy (undrafted).