•  Register
26

2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #24 UCLA

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 26, 2016

#24 UCLA Bruins

2015 Recap:

The UCLA Bruins had the Pac-12 South in hand and faltered down the stretch limping to an 8-5 season. Though the Bruins did break in frshman quarterback Josh Rosen and my oh my do they have a good one on their hands there.


Coaching:
Jim Mora seems very comfortable at UCLA and his 4 years at the helm have gone rather smoothly thus far.37 wins in 4 years is  anice total but we are still waiting for that breakout type year from UCLA and personally next year could be it as this feels like the building blocks to a monster year for 2017.  Kennedy Polamalu leads the offense and Tom Bradley mans the defensive side of the football.


Offense

I've already mentioned Josh Rosen and he has the opportunity to be one of the best if not THE best signal caller at UCLA...and there have been some good quarterbacks from this school (Troy Aikman, Gary Beban, Steve Bono, Cade McNown etc etc). Rosen threw for 3,669 yards and 23 touchdowns as a true freshman and he seemed more and more poised as the season went on. Soso Jamabo and Nate Starks are like running backs 1a and 1b and will provide an adequate punch after losing Paul Perkins to the NFL. Even with Perkins as the primary runner, Jamabo and Starks contributed 724 yards rushing and found the end zone 9 times. It comes down to the offensive line for UCLA as they lost three starters from last season but there is plenty of talent that remains. Conor McDermott leads the line at left tackle. Kolton Miller plays the right side and looks like another future calibur NFL player.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Josh Rosen QB 1st Round 2018 (Early Declaration).

                                       Conor McDermott OT 2nd Round 2017.


Defense

The defense was hampered by numerous injuries in 2015 and many of them beset key NFL prospects. Myles Jack slid out of Round 1 last season after tearing his ACL early. Eddie Vanderdoes also tore his ACL and it allowed Kenny Clark to showcase his talents and he left early for NFL life. Vanderdoes is the more complete of the prospects and stands up better against the run than the departed Clark. Takkarist McKinley was pressed into more action than the team wanted last season due to injury and he is back for his senior year. UCLA will employ a 3-4 nearly at all times and Eli Ankou is back to serve in the middle although Vanderdoes has the ability to also slide inside.Leading tackler Jayon Brown returns as he picked up most of the slack after Jack went down a season ago. Another important player that was out last season was cornerback Fabian Moreau and he has 1st Round talent. The safeties were a big reason why the Bruins led the Pac-12 in pass defense a season ago, that and teams ran at will with the injuries up front. Jaleel Wadood and Randall Goforth both show NFL skills and will be playing on Sundays in the future.

Best Draft Prospects: Eddie Vanderdoes DT 3rd Round 2018.

                                       Fabian Moreau CB 3rd Round 2017.


Special Teams:

Ismael Adams may be the best return man in the country and he will also serve as the 4th receiver for this offense. Adams is the highlight here as the kicker and punter positions will both be manned by freshman so it remains to be seen what UCLA really has at these positions. It may have been just the way things shook up last year but UCLA was near the top of the conference in punt coverage and near the bottom in kickoff return coverage.


Schedule:

UCLA is known for playing a tougher schedule outside of the PAC-12 and they travel to open the year against Texas A&M. A road game with BYU in the third game of the season will also be a test for the Bruins. USC, Stanford and Utah are all home contests while Oregon is not on the schedule for the regular season.

Draft and Overall Outlook:

UCLA never has a shortage of draft prospects but Rosen looks like the gem here but he will have to wait until at least 2018 as he is a true sophomore. Conor McDermott looks like he will be the highest draft choice heading into this season but we should see 5-7 Bruins overall drafted once April rolls around. Again, this looks like a building block towards a huge 2017 regular season.

DJ Boyer