Falcons to Work Out UCLA Defenders Friday After Busy Week

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA LB Eric Kendricks

Chase Goodbread of NFL.com reports that the Atlanta Falcons will work out UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks on Friday. Goodbread later added that his former teammate and defensive end Owa Odighizuwa will also participate in the workout. The Falcons are expected to conduct the workout on-campus, as the team continues to conduct a series of private workouts around various campuses across the country with two weeks until the 2015 NFL Draft commences on April 30.

The Falcons worked out University of Washington cornerback Marcus Peters on Wednesday in Oakland and have a workout scheduled with Coastal Carolina offensive lineman Chad Hamilton later today. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was apparently in Columbia, Missouri to conduct a workout of unknown prospects from the University of Missouri on Tuesday. That followed Sunday’s on-campus workout of Florida defensive end Dante Fowler, which previously was incorrectly thought to be held in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

It is no surprise that the Falcons are showing interest in a pair of UCLA defenders in Kendricks and Odighizuwa, given that new Falcons linebacker coach Jeff Ulbrich served as defensive coordinator at that school last season. Ulbrich spent three years at UCLA on Jim Mora’s coaching staff, beginning his career coaching linebackers and special teams before being promoted to defensive coordinator a year ago.

Both Kendricks and Odighizuwa hope to hear their names called in the late first round, however the Falcons might be hoping one or both players are available when they pick at the start of the second round with the 42nd overall selection.

Kendricks blossomed this past year under Ulbrich, earning the Dick Butkus Award given to the nation’s top linebacker. He posted career-highs of 149 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and three interceptions in 2014. Kendricks was a second-team All-American and All-Pac-12 honoree this past year. He was a two-time team captain and three-time all-conference academic team honoree during his career. Kendricks finished his career with three seasons with 100 or more tackles, and finished second on the team with 76 tackles as a freshman despite not starting until the final month of the season.

The 6′ 232-pound linebacker clocked a 4.61-second 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical and did 19 bench reps of 225 pounds at the Combine in February. His older brother, Mychal, is a fourth-year NFL linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Odighizuwa blossomed as a senior after missing the entire 2013 season due to a pair of surgeries on both hips. He finished this past season with 61 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He served as a co-captain alongside Kendricks and earned second-team all-conference honors as well. Odighizuwa spent three years primarily as a backup at UCLA, starting a total of seven games and recording a combined 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in that span. Odighizuwa impressed at the Combine, being among the top performers at his position in the 40-yard dash (4.62 seconds), vertical jump (39 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 7 inches). He also did 25 bench reps while measuring in at 6’3″ 267 pounds.

Peters is one of the top cornerbacks in this year’s draft class, but is hoping to rehabilitate his image after being dismissed by Washington this past year. He appeared in nine games this past year, tallying 30 tackles, four tackles for loss, three interceptions and seven passes defended. That was coming off a year in which he had a career-best 55 tackles and five interceptions in 2013 when he replaced Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant as the top guy in the Huskies’ secondary. At 6′ 197 pounds, Peters is a physical corner that recorded a 4.53-second 40, 17 bench reps, 37.5-inch vertical jump and 7.08-second three-cone drill at the Combine.

Hamilton was invited to the Combine, where he measured in at 6’2″ and 292 pounds with impressive 34-inch arms given his shorter frame. Hamilton chose not to run drills, but did participate in positional drills at the Combine. Hamilton played left tackle at Coastal Carolina, but is expected to move inside to guard and/or center in the NFL. He began his career as a left guard, starting four games as a redshirt freshman before making the move outside the following year. He proved durable, making 52 total appearances over the course of his career with 45 career starts. Hamilton was a three-time All-Big South Conference honoree and was named a second-team FCS All-American as a senior. At his pro day, he ran a 4.87-second 40 and lifted 225 pounds 19 times. The Falcons were among several teams that attended Coastal Carolina’s pro day. It’s unlikely that Quinn will be on hand to work out Hamilton and instead the Falcons will send position coaches Chris Morgan and/or Keith Carter to conduct the workout which will presumably be held on campus in Conway, South Carolina.

It’s likely that the Falcons were in Missouri to take a look at defensive end Shane Ray, among other notable Missouri prospects. Those may have included fellow defensive end Markus Golden and offensive tackle Mitch Morse. Both Golden and Morse are considered potential mid-to-late round picks.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Ray

Ray is considered by many to be among the premier pass-rushers in this year’s draft, having racked up 22.5 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks this past year. He is projected as a first-round pick that could be in the mix for the Falcons’ first selection with the eighth pick overall. Ray was unable to participate in February’s Combine due to a foot injury. At his pro day, he ran a 4.68-second 40 time, along with a 33-inch vertical and 7.60-second three-cone time according to NFLDraftScout.com. Ray is 6’3″ and weighs 245 pounds.

Golden was another highly productive pass-rusher at Missouri, tallying 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks this past year. Like Ray, Golden too had to wait until his March pro day to work out in front of scouts due an injury at the Combine. He clocked a 4.77-second 40, 28.5-inch vertical and 7.39-second three-cone. Golden measures in at 6’2″ and 260 pounds.

Morse was a three-year starter at Missouri, playing both center and both tackle spots over that span. The 6’5″ 305-pounder played left tackle this past season after spending the bulk of the previous two years on the right side. Morse had an impressive 36 bench reps and 9-foot, 3-inch broad jump, among the best for offensive linemen at the Combine.

Given Quinn’s background as a defensive line coach, it’s highly probable that both Ray and Golden worked out for the Falcons on Tuesday if available. Morse potentially working out for the team is possible but by no means probable. It was reported a month ago that the Falcons would visit with Ray, although it’s unknown if this past week’s visit was that previously scheduled one.

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Aaron Freeman
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