There are currently 32 UCLA alumni playing for NFL teams - not too shabby for a basketball school. So, who from that bunch is destined for greatness this season? Here’s my list of the top 5 UCLA alumni currently playing in the NFL:
#5 Kai Forbath
How many people thought I would start with a kicker? Yeah, didn't think so. Forbath was a great pick by the Redskins last season. He made 17 of 18 field goals, including one from over 50 yards. I expect the ‘Skins to use him a little more this season, and given how great he was at UCLA I would be surprised if he’s anything less than stellar in his second NFL season.
#4 Johnathan Franklin
Before ever taking a snap for an NFL franchise, Johnathan Franklin should already be due some respect. He has a power game along with some breakaway speed, and he should get a serious look at some point this season for the Green Bay Packers. I know he’s going to be stuck behind Eddie Lacy and most likely James Starks at the start of the season, but I still think Franklin could surprise some people late in the year. I truly believe that Franklin can be a 1,500 yard rusher at some point in his career - unfortunately, it probably won’t be this year, and it probably won’t be for the Packers.
#3 Akeem Ayers
Talk about a player with incredible upside. Entering his 3rd season in the NFL, Akeem Ayers came out of UCLA as an athletic linebacker who could make plays for a defense. I don’t think he was used as effectively as he should have been in his rookie season, but this past year he made a combined 104 tackles, had 1 forced fumble, 1 interception and 8 pass deflections. Those are solid numbers for any defensive player, and this season he’s sure to rack up even better numbers. I would be a little surprised if he wasn't fighting for a Pro Bowl selection. Ayers is still learning the game, and could become a truly elite linebacker in the next 5 years or so.
#2 Marcedes Lewis
I feel terrible for Marcedes Lewis. Lewis is stuck on the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they’ve been dealing with a quarterback crisis for most of his career. Just a couple seasons ago, Lewis had 10 TD's - he can be a very productive player, but he has absolutely nobody that can get him the ball, and that leads to poor production. If the Jaguars can find a way to solve their QB problem, watch out for Marcedes to have a rebound year and prove that he be a better tight end than his numbers have shown over the past two seasons.
#1 Maurice Jones-Drew
I know that Jones-Drew had a rough time last year, putting up poor numbers and missing several games due to injury. However, when healthy, MJD is one of the top 3 running backs in the NFL. Ask anybody who has seen him run over the years, and they’ll praise him for his elusiveness and willingness to lay into somebody with a big hit. Jones-Drew can do a little bit of everything with the ball in his hands. If healthy, I expect nothing less than 1,500 yards and 12 TD's this season from the human bowling ball. A Pro Bowl and All-NFL berth are highly likely for a guy who runs harder than almost any other running back in the NFL.Back to the UCLA Bruins Newsfeed