Five Bruins Invited to the NFL Combine

Feb. 16 -- Five Bruins received an invitation to the NFL Combine...

https://twitter.com/UCLAFootball/status/831977212148543488

The invitations to the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine and list of confirmed participants was released publicly Wednesday.

The combine will be in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 28th, through Monday, March 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

DE Takkarist McKinley (Photo by Steve Cheng)

Takkarist McKinley -- The UCLA defensive end is being projected most often as a late first round pick, anywhere from No. 21 to No. 30, but also appears in the second round on some mock drafts.  McKinley is projected as an outside linebacker at about 6-2 and 250, with his athleticism, speed and quickness -- along with the relentless motor -- being the big selling points. If he runs a fast 40 at the combine, he will probably cement first-round-pick status and perhaps move up into the top half of the first round.  


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Eddie Vanderdoes (Photo: Steve Cheng)

Eddie Vanderdoes -- The former UCLA defensive tackle is being projected to go in the middle rounds, according to most mock drafts (a few have him as high as the second round, but it seems like the most likely scenario entering the Combine would be Vanderdoes being drafted between rounds three and five). Vanderdoes had a good week at the Senior Bowl, which probably improved his standing some. The big question for Vanderdoes is whether he can build on his excellent run defending skills to become a good pass rusher, and it's uncertain how much he'll be able to show at the Combine in that respect. Certainly, showing some good agility and explosion would help.

Fabian Moreau (Photo: Steve Cheng)

Fabian Moreau -- The UCLA cornerback had a phenomenal week at the Senior Bowl and is now projected as high as a late first round pick by some mock drafts, and seems like a pretty solid bet to be off the board by the end of the second. Moreau really improved his ball skills over the course of his UCLA career, and coupled with the unreal anticipation and recovery he showed from day one, turned into one of the better corners in the Pac-12 by the end of 2016. Given that he's such a recent riser in terms of his draft status, his measurables could do a lot for him, either way -- running a good 40 and doing well in the agility drills will be key for him.

LB Jayon Brown (Photo by Steve Cheng)

Jayon Brown -- The former UCLA linebacker is not currently projected to be drafted in most mock drafts, so he could really help himself with a good Combine performance. His position in the NFL could also be interesting -- while he played linebacker for most of his UCLA career, his size might allow teams to take a look at him as a safety as well, which is a position he's played before. In any case, running well will be a key for him. Even if he doesn't get drafted, he's a virtual lock to get picked up as a free agent, and we can very much imagine a scenario where he goes from undrafted free agent to a key special teams player and rotational linebacker for an NFL team.

OT Conor McDermott (Photo by Steve Cheng)

Conor McDermott -- McDermott is a really interesting case for this draft. Entering the season, he was probably neck and neck with Vanderdoes as UCLA's most touted 2017 draft prospect, but with the season long over, his stock is in a curious position. Most mock drafts have him getting drafted somewhere between the 5th round and not at all. The thing to keep in mind with him is that even though he's pretty old for a guy just entering the draft, he really didn't play all that much college football, so there's a good amount of raw clay still to mold with him, which could make him attractive in the later rounds for NFL GMs.


Non-Combine Bruins

There are a good number of UCLA seniors who weren't invited to the NFL Combine that will also take a shot at earning a free agent contract. Whether they do or not will mostly be based on how they perform at UCLA's Pro Day, which is annually the second week in March.

As a fullback (where he played before moving to tight end his senior year) Nate Iese is a nice athlete at probably 6-2 and 245 pounds, and if he runs a good 40 at Pro Day you could maybe see him as a 7th-round pick. Kenny Walker has a chance at a free agent contract because of one thing: speed.  A blazing 40 time at Pro Day could get him a contract. Defensive lineman Eli Ankou has an NFL-type body and strength and that gets him mentioned as a free-agent candidate.  Long-time starter at safety Randall Goforth has size and injury issues as an NFL prospect. After playing DB and WR at UCLA, Ishmael Adams doesn't really have a defined position for NFL scouts and is pretty small. His NFL chance was probably hinged on being a punt returner, but the flash he showed as a sophomore never really materialized in his last two seasons.  With good showings and good 40s at Pro Day, cornerback Marcus Rios, outside linebacker Deon Hollins, safety Tahaan Goodman and inside linebacker Isaako Savaiinaea have outside chances at FA contracts. 


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