Monday, July 22

Brantley Watson: Bruins selected in 2010 NFL Draft are in good position for future glory

With three UCLA players among this year's picks, Rick Neuheisel's program is showing improvement

Former UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the 35th pick in the NFL draft Friday.

Former UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the 35th pick in the NFL draft Friday. Daily Bruin file photo

The three days have concluded, the seven rounds are over, and the 255 selections have been made.

But of those 255 selections, I’m only concerned with three: No. 35, No. 104 and No. 219.

With the 35th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft (don’t I sound like Commissioner Goodell?), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected the reigning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and UCLA’s own defensive tackle, Brian Price.

Price landing in Tampa could prove to be a marvelous gift, equivalent to getting a PS3 on Christmas when you’re 13 years old, or it could prove to be just the opposite.

Here’s the scenario …

With the third pick in the draft, the Bucs selected Oklahoma Sooners defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, thought to be just as good, and in many analysts’ minds, better than Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh. As of now, McCoy is slated to occupy the left defensive tackle slot for the Bucs, opening up the right side for Price.

The Bucs’ current starting right defensive tackle is 11-year veteran Chris Hovan. Last season, Hovan amassed 33 tackles, 0.5 sacks and one stuff, or tackle for loss.

My point is that Price will have ample opportunity to take Hovan’s spot.

That’s the good news.

The bad news, however, is that the NFL is an unpredictable league, and there always lingers the possibility that McCoy could be moved to the right DT spot, or Price could be moved to the left DT spot. If that happens, Price could end up playing behind the highly touted McCoy, which would bode terribly for Price’s chances to see significant playing time.

However, the rumor circling around Tampa Bay is that because of Price’s speed, he may even be slotted at either of the defensive end spots. Therefore, Tampa looks to fit Price well, and BP should see the field just as much as McCoy.

With the 104th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft (Goodell voice, once again), the Tennessee Titans selected UCLA cornerback Alterraun Verner.

The good news … I’m not sure there is any.

Verner will more than likely find himself low on the depth chart, having to play behind a stacked Tennessee secondary that includes cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Roderick Hood, strong safety Chris Hope and free safety, Michael Griffin.

Finnegan is one of the NFL’s rising defensive stars and if Verner finds himself playing behind Cortland, then I can’t see AV getting much burn.

And as far as seeing action at the safety position goes, last season, Hope and Griffin recorded 81 and 77 tackles, respectively, to go along with four interceptions between them, more than solid numbers for a safety core.

Hopefully, Verner can see some playing time, but mainly focus on learning from the guys in front of him.

Lastly, with the 219th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected Terrence Austin, hailing from my hometown of Long Beach, Calif.

And Austin couldn’t have landed in a better place.

The recent acquisition of Donovan McNabb automatically makes the Redskins a playoff contender and gives Austin the chance to work with an experienced and possible Hall of Fame QB. In addition, the Redskins receiving core is so mediocre that McNabb even asked management to sign Terrell Owens.

That’s how bad McNabb needs receivers.

And after seeing the success that McNabb had with DeSean Jackson, who went to Long Beach Poly High School with Austin, what’s to say that McNabb can’t have the same success with TA? Granted, Jackson is a supreme talent and Austin may not be quite on his level, but TA does have the skill, speed and toughness to possibly become Washington’s version of Jackson.

But despite their NFL careers and what situation they landed in, hopefully Price, Verner and Austin will create a new and lasting trend for UCLA football under coach Rick Neuheisel. The fact that three Bruins were drafted this year, as opposed to none last year, is a step in the right direction for Neuheisel and his program.

In addition, former Bruins Logan Paulsen, Reggie Carter, Chane Moline, and Kyle and Korey Bosworth all signed free agent NFL contracts.

Congratulations, men.

Go Bruins.

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