Eligible Bruins have upper hand in NFL Draft
DEC 11, 2012 10:11p ET
Now, for the first time in his coaching career, Mora is now on the other side helping prepare his players for the NFL draft.
The perspective is a unique one.
Many college coaches have briefly flirted with the NFL but Mora was practically raised in the pro game. Factor in the experience of his position coaches and strength and conditioning coordinator Sal Alosi, and Mora and his staff might be better equipped to evaluate the talent, development and overall maturity of his players than most other staffs in the NCAA, giving the Bruin prospects a significant advantage in taking the next step.
"There's not many staffs in the NCAA that can say that," Mora said. "And I like the fact that I have the experience that I've had in the NFL to be able to help these kids as they move forward."
The Bruins are preparing for the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, but as soon as the game is over, football will become a business for many. The combines, the showcases, the agents and contracts in the months leading up to the NFL draft all equate to a complicated and daunting business venture.
"NFL football is fun but it's a business. And when these guys step out of this arena and go to the next level it changes dramatically in terms of their approach to the game," Mora said. "When a lot of money is staring you in the face it's hard to sometimes comprehend that but it's true."
"It's definitely an advantage more than just (any other) first-year college coach," said TE Joseph Fauria, who is also being advised by his uncle, Christian, a 13-year NFL veteran. "It's a tremendous help. He has the say, he's been there on the other side, he knows what it takes, he knows how to help out and he knows what to do at the next level.
"It's mostly on us but he'll probably get us that little oomph that gets us to the next level."
The staff will have a role in the preparations for pro days, combines, senior showcases and even helping chose an agent.
"(We'll help them try) to process the information and find them an agent - I've dealt with every agent there is," Mora said.
Aside from Mora, defensive coordinator Lou Spanos spent 17 years in the NFL before joining the college ranks. Linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich and offensive line coach Adrian Klemm both came to UCLA after NFL playing and coaching careers. Alosi's nine years in the NFL might be the biggest advantage, as he is not only able to evaluate the physical development needed to play at the next level but he can also tailor the individual workouts based on aiding and enhancing that development.
"As far as our coaches and coordinators go, this is an awesome coaching staff," Marsh said. "Everybody respects the coaches completely."
The biggest question is whether or not LB Anthony Barr will return for his senior season or declare for the draft. In his first year as a linebacker, Barr terrorized opposing quarterbacks with a nation-leading 13.5 sacks and was named an All-American. It's easy to forget that it was just a few months ago that the junior made the move to defense.
"It was just three months ago that everyone was asking me how my first game was," Barr said. "And now we're here. It's kind of crazy."
The transition was impossibly smooth. In just five months, Barr went from sparsely-used running back to an NFL caliber defender. Mora has said several times that he has never seen anyone dominate like Barr in his first year at the position. Barr has talked to his position coaches and defensive coordinator has taken their advice into account, and his next step is to talk to Mora before undergoing a formal NFL evaluation.
"Those are guys I respect, they've been there and done that," Barr said. "It makes it more comfortable, it's not as unknown. They can kind of have the insight and the inside scoop and they feed to me what they're hearing.
"I honestly trust their opinion and what they are saying."
Although Mora has stated that he would like for Barr and all of the other juniors to come back, ultimately the staff has only the best interest of the players in mind when advising them and his players have echoed that sentiment as well.
"I'm excited for him to help me out because I know he wants to help me out as much as he can and I appreciate that from him," Fauria said.
"We're not trying to convince them to go one way or the other," Mora said. "We're just telling them the truth."
+ SHOW COMMENTS +