Wednesday, May 27

Four UCLA football players show off skills at NFL Combine, ahead of draft

Cornerback Darnay Holmes (left) and running back Joshua Kelley (right) were two of UCLA football's four participants at last week's NFL Scouting Combine. (Left: Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff Right: Liz Ketcham/Photo editor)

Even after a fourth straight losing season, several Bruins are still well on their way to the next step.

Four former members of UCLA football participated in the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine over the last week: running back Joshua Kelley, cornerback Darnay Holmes, tight end Devin Asiasi and kicker JJ Molson. The Bruins sent just two representatives to Indianapolis for last year’s event, but the jump back up to four falls in line with the five and six players UCLA sent in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

While player orientation, media availability and measurements took place over the first half of the week, the players took the field for workouts starting Thursday with the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends. Asiasi was the first Bruin to make a showing, posting a 4.73-second 40-yard dash and racking up 16 reps on the bench press.

Asiasi’s 40-yard dash time ranked seventh out of the 17 tight ends who ran it, with highly touted prospects Colby Parkinson and Jared Pinkney putting up times of 4.77 and 4.96 seconds, respectively. However, Asiasi’s 16 bench press reps ranked second-to-last among participating tight ends and his 30.5-inch vertical jump came in dead last.

Still, the former Bruin is projected to be the first UCLA player to be selected in this year’s NFL Draft, with NFL analyst Lance Zierlein rating him as a future starter within his first two seasons.

Friday boasted two Bruins on the field, but neither earned grades as high as Asiasi’s.

Kelley ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash, good for seventh among the pool of 28 running backs. His 23 reps on the bench press placed him in a tie for fifth at his position, and all of his testing numbers besides his vertical and broad jumps ranked inside the top 10 for running backs.

Another former UCLA running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, commended Kelley for his performance over the weekend and in January’s Senior Bowl via a tweet Saturday morning. Zierlein, however, graded Kelley as a potential backup or special teamer in the NFL, slotting him in as a day three prospect.

Molson did not take part in any of the physical tests, but his 182-pound frame made him the smallest kicker in attendance. Zierlein rated Molson as a priority free agent, meaning the Canadian-born kicker is not projected to hear his name called come draft day.

Holmes may not have the same draft grades as Asiasi – coming into the week as a backup or special teamer alongside Kelley – but he earned the most praise of any Bruin all week.

His 4.48-second 40-yard dash was tied for 12th among 29 defensive backs, but NFL analysts Michael Robinson, Charles Davis and Hall of Famer Deion Sanders all said they were impressed by his smoothness, agility and adaptability in the route-running and coverage drills.

Holmes is projected to be a mid- to late-round selection and has been categorized as a prototypical slot corner in the NFL.

The 2020 NFL Draft will begin April 23, but none of the Bruins’ top prospects are slated to come off the board on day one.

Sports editor

Connon is the Sports editor and a reporter on the football and men's basketball beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor for the baseball, men's soccer, women's golf, men's golf and cross country beats and a reporter on the baseball and women's basketball beats. Connon also contributes movie reviews for Arts & Entertainment and co-hosts Daily Bruin Sports' weekly podcast, "Out of Bounds." Connon is a third-year Communication student from Winchester, Massachusetts.

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