After three sub-.500 seasons to kick off the Chip Kelly period at UCLA, the Bruins rebounded for an 8-4 marketing campaign in 2021. Following that on-field success have been six gamers listening to their names referred to as within the 2022 NFL Draft, essentially the most amongst Pac-12 applications. With a plethora of transfers out and in of Los Angeles, will UCLA’s 2023 NFL Draft prospects attain the identical heights?
UCLA prospects within the 2023 NFL Draft
Since final November, 21 Bruins entered the switch portal. Meanwhile, 12 athletes dedicated to UCLA throughout that span. Combine that with the gamers who left through the NFL draft and commencement, and also you’re left with a roster stuffed with new faces. Will the inflow of recent expertise result in one other successful season, or will it trigger the staff to regress to the early days beneath Kelly? We’ll quickly discover out the reply, however within the meantime, let’s check out UCLA’s draft-eligible prospects within the 2023 class.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB
After flirting with the switch portal, Dorian Thompson-Robinson in the end determined to return to Westwood. A quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-quarterback, DTR was seen as a uncooked prospect popping out of highschool powerhouse Bishop Gorman.
While that rawness nonetheless reveals up on occasion, primarily in his psychological processing and mechanical inconsistencies, Thompson-Robinson has flashed spectacular bodily instruments. Yes, he can run and make performs occur together with his legs. But DTR additionally owns the arm expertise to hit receivers everywhere in the area and from totally different angles/platforms.
Zach Charbonnet, RB
One of my private favourite RBs within the 2023 class, Zach Charbonnet parlayed two seasons at Michigan right into a breakout marketing campaign with the Bruins. Charbonnet bounced off tackles and exploded by way of holes for 1,153 yards and 13 touchdowns final yr.
At 6’1″, 220 kilos, with loads of energy saved in his decrease half, Charbonnet has no challenge breaking arm tackles and staying in go safety. His dimension/velocity mixture will make him one of many high RBs chosen within the 2023 NFL Draft.
Jake Bobo, WR
After 4 years at Duke, Jake Bobo will probably be suiting up in a special blue on Saturdays. The 6’5″ receiver clearly possesses the scale to be a red-zone risk. But he wasn’t with the Blue Devils, hauling in simply three touchdowns in his profession. That ought to change in 2022 as Kelly is worked up about his new weapon. Bobo gained’t make many defenders miss within the open area, however he’s a dependable possession WR who can transfer the chains.
Kazmeir Allen, WR
UCLA followers have lengthy awaited the Kazmeir Allen breakout season. Could 2022 be the yr? The redshirt senior has caught passes, taken handoffs, and returned kicks all through his profession. With the beginning slot position seemingly his to lose, Allen ought to lastly see the alternatives he’s been ready for. He’s an electrical weapon when the ball’s in his arms, and if the Bruins can manufacture room for him to function, he’ll show the wait was price it.
Kam Brown, WR
With Kyle Philips and Greg Dulcich within the NFL and Chase Cota off to Oregon, Kam Brown is UCLA’s main returning receiver. Brown might have solely caught 17 passes for 247 yards and two scores, however he had the staff’s second-deepest common depth of goal (13.8). With Bobo enjoying the X and Allen on the within, Brown might stretch the sphere from the Z. However, he’ll want an enormous yr to be an element within the 2023 NFL Draft.
Michael Ezeike, TE
Michael Ezeike is the one returning tight finish who recorded a goal final season (six). With Dulcich now a Cleveland Brown, Ezeike is in line for a lot of the vacated TE manufacturing. His most efficient season truly occurred again in 2018, when he posted 12 catches for 136 yards and two TDs. The 6’5″ tight finish added 20+ kilos to make the swap from a four-star receiver. 2022 might be his coming-out celebration if he earns the TE1 position.
Mike Martinez, TE
Although Mike Martinez’s enjoying time has dwindled since enrolling in 2019, he has quietly been one in all UCLA’s greatest blocking TEs. With solely six receptions to his identify, I don’t envision him abruptly changing into one in all DTR’s high targets. Nevertheless, at 6’7″ and 266 kilos, he gives a large catch radius and will develop into a real red-zone risk.
Raiqwon O’Neal, OT
Following two beginning seasons at Rutgers, Raiqwon O’Neal determined to take his abilities throughout the nation. In 2021, O’Neal earned All-Big Ten honorable point out and was wonderful in go safety. He not often allowed stress and didn’t forfeit a sack.
Replacing Sean Rhyan at LT is a tall activity, and O’Neal isn’t the identical bodily specimen. But his constant play in go safety is effective, and he might develop additional as a run blocker this season.
Atonio Mafi, G
Exit Paul Grattan, enter Atonio Mafi. Mafi performed alongside the defensive position for the Bruins his first two years with the staff after committing as an OL recruit. Last season, nonetheless, he moved again to the guard place and performed effectively in aid.
At a hulking 6’4″ and 355 kilos, Mafi is slated because the beginning left guard for his ultimate collegiate season. If he continues his kind from 2021, he’ll obtain seems to be within the 2023 NFL Draft for his dimension and cross-training.
Duke Clemens, C
At 6’3″ and 291 kilos, Duke Clemens is a little bit of an undersized offensive lineman. Regardless, he brings sought-after versatility alongside the inside, enjoying important snaps at each guard spots and heart throughout his profession. Clemens generally struggles with energy, however he can pull and work upfield, making him a greater zone scheme match.
Jon Gaines II, G
Continuing the flexibility development, Jon Gaines II acquired reps at heart, proper guard, and proper sort out final season. In 2019, he performed 200+ snaps at left guard. So yeah, I’d say he’s well-versed up entrance. Gaines can refine his method and play extra patiently, particularly in go professional, however he strikes effectively in house and sports activities a strong decrease half.
Bo Calvert, EDGE
Bo Calvert performed primarily within the field for his first three seasons in LA, however he moved to edge rusher in 2021. A high-motor athlete, Calvert by no means stops his ft and works his manner towards the ball. With a full yr and offseason at EDGE beneath his belt, he can escape in 2022. However, if Calvert doesn’t take the following step in his growth, it will likely be onerous for him to crack an NFL roster.
Gabriel and Grayson Murphy, EDGE
North Texas deployed twin terror within the C-USA final yr. Gabriel and Grayson Murphy usually are not solely an identical of their dimension (6’2″, 230+) and bodily instruments, however in addition they play an analogous model of soccer. The duo mixed for 90 tackles and 15½ sacks in 2021, tormenting opposing offensive tackles. With the Bruins, the Murphys will kind a rotation reverse Calvert.
Carl Jones Jr., EDGE
Similar to Calvert, Carl Jones Jr. started his UCLA tenure as a field linebacker. But he spent the final two seasons as a rotational edge rusher. He will reprise that position in 2022, although he ought to function extra given the quantity of turnover on protection.
When he has earned important enjoying time, Jones has flashed his disruption capability. Jones could also be a bit too gentle for the NFL to make use of a draft decide on him (6’1″, 210). But if he performs effectively with a rise in snaps, he might earn a camp invite as a delegated go rusher.
Martin Andrus Jr., DT
Martin Andrus Jr.’s story is one in all perseverance and dedication. He turned a full-time starter in 2018 and was a chess piece for the defensive position. And then got here back-to-back ACL tears and surgical procedures. Finally wholesome this season, Andrus goals to rekindle the fireplace he introduced 4 years in the past. Even if he does, his medicals will possible take him off most draft boards.
Jacob Sykes, DT
A Harvard standout, Jacob Sykes is yet one more switch acquisition for Kelly and Co. Sykes generated seven sacks and eight tackles for loss in 2021 and may begin in one of many B gaps. Standing at 6’3″ and 277 kilos, the Missouri native is lighter than you’d usually see at DT. Yet, Sykes possesses nice size, burst, and agility. With correct implementation of his teaching, Sykes might attain a brand new degree with the Bruins.
Kain Medrano, LB
We haven’t seen an excessive amount of from Kain Medrano so far, however he showcased his run-defending prowess in restricted reps final yr. Typically enjoying the WILL, Medrano is an athletic linebacker with stable dimension. A special-teams ace, the UCLA LB figures to play a bigger position on protection in 2022.
Darius Muasau, LB
Darius Muasau is a rocked-up 6’1″ and 230-pound linebacker with a nostril for the soccer. Following consecutive 100+ sort out campaigns for Hawaii, he determined to come back to shore and don the blue and gold. Though his tape is affected by missed tackles, Muasau is an distinctive blitzer and might blow up dashing lanes.
Ale Kaho, LB
The most skilled returning linebacker, Ale Kaho ought to acquire his first full-time beginning position in his collegiate profession. Kaho spent three years at Alabama earlier than transferring to UCLA final season. His inexperience confirmed at instances, however the instruments are there for the previous four-star recruit to reside as much as his billing. It’s plenty of projection, however Kaho’s untapped potential is price keeping track of.
Azizi Hearn, CB
Aziz Hearn’s profession has seen him bounce from Arizona to Wyoming and now UCLA. Despite enjoying over 2,000 profession snaps, he has but to grab an interception. But the ball manufacturing is there with 4 PBUs in every of the final three years. The former walk-on is stingy in protection, and whereas his physicality can get him in bother at instances (21 profession penalties), Hearn hasn’t conceded a go longer than 30 yards since 2019.
Mo Osling III, S
Outside of the defensive position, there isn’t a place Mo Osling III hasn’t performed throughout 5 seasons with UCLA. At 6’1″ and practically 200 kilos, he has respectable dimension for the security place, which is the place he’ll presumably line up in 2022. Time will inform if Osling saved his greatest for final. But as an older prospect with not a lot to point out for it, he has a steep hill to climb to be a 2023 NFL Draft decide.
Stephan Blaylock, S
As a three-year starter, Stephan Blaylock would be the unquestioned chief of a younger defensive unit. He recorded practically 100 extra snaps than any UCLA defender final yr. While he usually strains up as a deep security, Blaylock has no challenge dropping into the field to defend the run or overlaying go catchers within the slot.