Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Football: NFL draft preview
By Blair Angulo
Only three UCLA players are expected to be selected in this year's NFL draft. Here are some quick notes leading up to Thursday's first round:
Akeem Ayers, outside linebacker, 6-3, 254 lbs.
Upside: Ayers' hybrid ability is his major bread winner. He's quick enough to line up at outside linebacker and big enough to play defensive end from time to time. Ayers combines his physical tools with natural instincts and should be a formidable player at the next level.
Possible teams: San Diego Chargers (18th overall), New York Giants (19th), Kansas City Chiefs (21st), Philadelphia Eagles (23rd), Baltimore Ravens (26th), New England Patriots (28th), New York Jets (30th)
Projection: If you recall, Ayers was projected as high as No. 13 in early mock drafts but slipped a bit following a poor showing at the combine. Unofficial 40-yard dash times of 4.83 and 4.80 in Indianapolis turned some teams off, but he made up for it slightly at UCLA's pro day workouts. Regardless of the lackluster numbers, Ayers is slated to become UCLA's first first-rounder since Marcedes Lewis (2006). We'll predict he gets nabbed by Baltimore -- looking to develop the next Terrell Suggs -- with the 26th overall pick.
Rahim Moore, safety, 6-0, 202 lbs.
Upside: The definition of a ball hawk. Moore led the nation with 10 interceptions as a sophomore and wasn't tested much last year. He studies film relentlessly, which allows him to make the correct reads more often than not.
Possible teams: Baltimore Ravens (26th overall; Moore gets to learn from idol Ed Reed), New York Jets (30th overall), Pittsburgh Steelers (31st), Cincinnati Bengals (35th), Denver Broncos (36th), Cleveland Browns (37th), New England Patriots (have three of first 33 picks), Dallas Cowboys (40th overall pick)
Projection: Moore knows he's not a top-15 pick, yet believes he's still first-round material. Whether or not an NFL team thinks the same remains to be seen. Moore could go off the board late in the first, say, to a team like the Patriots, who have the luxury of two first-round selections. If that doesn't happen, Moore will hear his name called early on the second day.
Kai Forbath, place kicker, 5-11, 191 lbs.
Upside: The 2009 Lou Groza Award winner has a strong leg and was virtually automatic during his time at UCLA. He finished his career tied for the Pac-10 and UCLA record with 85 made field goals, two shy of the NCAA record.
Possible teams: Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills -- all of which had a field-goal conversion rate of less than 77 percent last season.
Projection: There were three punters drafted last year, but no place kickers. That figures to change this year, though Forbath is rated as the No. 2 kicker in the draft behind Nebraska's Alex Henery. There hasn't been a kicker drafted higher than 160th overall (fifth round) since 2007. Ironically, that kicker was UCLA's Justin Medlock, who Forbath replaced. Look for something similar here, perhaps anywhere from the fourth round to the seventh.