By the end of the NFL Draft on Saturday, all five Bruins who were thought to be potential draft picks were selected, with Jordan Zumwalt rounding out the group with the sixteenth pick in the sixth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Draft was some pointed evidence of the direction the program is headed under Jim Mora. Anthony Barr (at the ninth pick overall) was UCLA's highest selection in the Draft since Jonathan Ogden in 1996. Xavier Su'a-Filo (drafted with the 33rd overall pick) was the first UCLA lineman selected higher than the 3rd round since Ogden as well. With five players drafted (including Shaquelle Evans and Cassius Marsh in the fourth round to the Jets and Seahawks respectively), the Bruins had more draft picks in a single year than they've had since 2002.
In total, nine players have been selected in the draft in Mora's two years at UCLA, with two first-round selections, one second-round selection, three fourth-round selections, one fifth, and two sixth-rounders.
In two of predecessor Rick Neuheisel's years at UCLA, not a single UCLA player was drafted, which was a testament to the weaker talent development in the program as well as the lack of talent inherited by Neuheisel. The combination of improvement in both aspects (talent in the program and its development) is evident in the players selected: Barr was a little-used F-back when Mora arrived, Marsh was a high-potential, low-production defensive tackle, and Evans was not considered future pro material.
Over the next two years, the expectation is that UCLA should have considerably more players drafted, with the talent in the program probably now the best it has been since at least the 1990's. Among those eligible next year who could conceivably go pro include Brett Hundley, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Eric Kendricks, Malcolm Bunche, Anthony Jefferson, and Jordon James. The following year, the results could be even more impressive, with Kenneth Clark, Myles Jack, Fabian Moreau, Eddie Vanderdoes, Ellis McCarthy, Kenny Orjioke, Devin Lucien, Devin Fuller, and several others all being potential draft picks.
As it stands, several prospects who graduated this year are expected to sign free agent contracts with teams over the next few days. Brandon Sermons, the undrafted defensive back, has already signed a free agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals. Damien Thigpen, Malcolm Jones, Stan McKay, Darius Bell, Seali'i Epenesa, and Keenan Graham all await word on whether they'll have a chance to compete for a job in the professional ranks.
Five Bruins Selected in NFL Draft
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