Scouting the PAC 10: UCLA

A very disappointing campaign for UCLA in 2001, one which did not include a bowl appearance though the talent was there for the team to contend. The Bruins lose a pair of seniors that were selected in the top 40 of April's draft as well as a few other late round picks but still, this is a talented laden team that can make noise next season and into April.

UCLA Bruins

The top pro-prospects on offense are actually underclassmen, though the seniors offer a few late rounders. Cory Paus, a fundamentally sound passer, makes good decisions for the most part, displaying toughness in the pocket, not doing a bad job reading the defense but overall lacks pocket passer size, arm strength and has only average accuracy. It adds up to Paus being a late frame selection. Tackle Bryce Bohlander is another hard worker with good technique and aLaMont Thompson blind-side protector that displays adequate strength. A big lineman, he is not light on his feet, lacks blocking range and may be best suited for the right side. Likewise right tackle Mike Saffer has even less agility or abilities to play in space but is a powerful lineman that reminds us of former Bruin Chad Overhaus. Saffer has size, size potential and a move to guard is not out of the question. The real talent on this side of the ball lay in the ranks of the underclassmen. On paper UCLA will miss DeShaun Foster but a pair of juniors could easily pick up the slack and replace the production Foster now takes with him to the Carolina Panthers. Akil Harris has a style quite similar to that of Foster; smart, elusive with a little bit of power. Harris displays great vision and runs with terrific balance between tackle, following blocks and consistently picking up positive yardage. Harris did an admirable job filling in for injured/suspended DeShaun Foster last season and now has the opportunity to take the ball for himself and prove he's capable of being the feature runner. If successful it will translate into a very early selection for Harris in a year or two. Manual White Jr., a big, power-back, can be his own blocker barreling through opponents to pick up a lot of yardage off initial contact. The best talent, if he ever hits on all cylinders, could well be receiver Tab Perry, a big target with the ability to out-run defenders or out-muscle them physically. Perry displayed flashes of ability as a sophomore and must now turn up the consistency, become a big part of the offense and show his talents on an every snap basis.

Defensively we've been high on corner Ricky Manning Jr. for sometime now but its' becoming harder to scout Manning as he's less involved in the defense since opposing quarterbacks rarely throw to his direction anymore. That's because Manning is a shutdown corner and impenetrable in man-to-man situations. Tough, fast and explosive, Manning displays both corner skills, instincts as well as speed. He'll throw his body around to defend the run just as quickly as he runs step-for-step with opponents down the field to break up the long pass. Problem for Manning; barely 5-8 a lot of teams will not expend an early choice on him nor consider him anything other than a nickel back. Wiping that all away Manning is a terrific cover-man and justifiably worth a first day pick. Rodney Leslie, only a junior, is a tough, run stuffing interior lineman with good upside to his game and a prospect that should make a move up draft boards as he matures physically, adding bulk to his frame.

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