UCLA Pro Day recap: QB Brett Hundley, LB Eric Kendricks, DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa
After three seasons of Jim Mora implementing and NFL-like model of a program at UCLA, it should be no surprise that his third draft class was more focused on showing draft scouts a professional demeanor than gaudy numbers at Tuesday’s Pro Day.
"I’ve spent a lot of time with them up until this point talking with them about it, but everything is being evaluated," Mora said. "Three teams came up to me today and commented on the fact that it was nice to see Brett (Hundley) wearing his hat the correct way, rather that wearing it backwards or cocked to the side. What these young men have to understand is that the way the walk, the way they talk, what they wear – how they present themselves at all times is being evaluated by these professional football teams."
Mora has impressed that mantra upon his teams by implementing certain program standards that players have to adhere to from the minute they sign their NLI. The culture of professionalism is something Mora helps will move them to the next level.
"That’s just the way we do things and that’s the only way I know how to do things," he said. "After 28 or something years in the NFL, there’s only one way that I know how to do things and we just kind of try to instill that in our program."
Here’s how all five Bruins fared at Tuesday’s pro day.
QB Brett Hundley: Projected to go anywhere between the first and third rounds, Hundley benched, ran the 40 and threw at both the combine and pro day. Great with the media and as down to earth as ever, no one was surprised with how well he interviewed, either. The only real specifics that Hundley wanted to show improvement on footwork and fundamentals from the combine, and with a smooth passing performance he’s confident that he showed exactly that.
Hundley has made it known that he thinks he can start in the NFL next season and he didn’t back down from that claim Tuesday. And with the realization that a team is going to invest a lot of money in him, he wanted to show more of his character as well.
"Coming out and slinging it here on pro day and just being me," he said. "I feel like I’m a good guy and I think people should see that."
The skill, athleticism and numbers were all there on Tuesday, but the bigger questions that face Hundley — pocket poise and defensive reads — weren’t ones that could be answered in the simulated format of a pro day.
"Brett threw 60 passes and completed 57-of-60 with one drop," Mora said. "So not every throw was perfect, but what I think the scouts appreciated was his enthusiasm. You hear the same things over and over – what a great kid he is and what high character he has, a hard worker too."
ILB Eric Kendricks: Kendricks was unable to improve on his 40 time from the combine as the hamstring injury that suffered training for Indianapolis continues to nag him. The Butkus Award winner seemed to fine with standing on that time and performed well in drills Tuesday.
"I just wanted to show people that I could move and that I’m not really effected by it," he said. "Hopefully I showed them that I can move, I can move in space and that I’m also explosive and fast."
Interior is still where most scouts like him Mora doesn’t think that him not running the 40 again will hurt his chances. According to his coach, so far everyone is more impressed with his college career as a whole.
"I talk to everyone and they say it doesn’t really matter what film they turn on," Mora said. "They see a guy that goes sideline-to-sideline and makes plays.
DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa: He’s turned heads since the combine. The 6-foot-3, 267-pound Odighizuwa wanted to erase the questions about his versatility and athleticism with a good pro day. He participated in drills at both defensive end and standup outside linebacker and he’s got himself a considerable buzz as the draft approaches.
"Owa goes to the combine and jumps out in the gym, he ran a great 40 and he’s very athletic," Mora said. "Today, teams really got a chance to see him work in space a little bit. You put him on a sled and you can really feel the power, he’s got heavy hands. I think people are really starting to appreciate him."
DB Anthony Jefferson: More speed was the aim with Jefferson on Tuesday. With an injury history, he felt that he needed to improve on a few areas and build on a few others at pro day.
"I just wanted to come out and showcase my talent and my abilities to the best that I can do," he said. "I thought it went well and I’m pretty confident in my performance out here today."
Jefferson ran the 40 twice with speeds of 4.64 and 4.62. He’s played both safety and corner and has been told that he possibly projects better as a safety, but as he’s demonstrated in the past, he’ll play whatever position is needed for the better of the team.
Others: Defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy did not run or lift, instead using his combine numbers. Running back Jordon James also worked out, showcasing good speed and explosion with solid times of 4.42 and 4.44 in the 40.