Myles Jack's path from UCLA to the NFL didn't go quite as anyone would've liked. The electric linebacker and part-time running back suffered a season-ending knee injury in a September practice and quickly decided he wouldn't be coming back to the Bruins.
Still, the injury has done little to roll back the excitement about Jack as an outside linebacker, as he's considered the clear No. 1 at his position.
He went off the board at No. 5 to Jacksonville in SB Nation's latest mock draft, which is where roughly two-thirds of all mock drafts have him going, though he's also projected as high as No. 3. He'll be playing his favored position at the NFL level, but he took the college world by storm in 2013 partly due to his efforts as a running back.
This is in spite of his head coach at UCLA, Jim Mora, saying this right after Jack declared for the draft:
He's taking his chips and shoving them into the middle, and we hope he draws a good hand. I think it's risky to do this. Having been on that side, there's going to be a lot of speculation as to what he is and where he fits. And as I told Myles on Sunday, NFL teams are very, very conservative, and if there's any question whatsoever, they'll pass on you in a heartbeat. They're going to take the sure thing ... As a guy that spent half of my life in the NFL, I would move with great caution, and I would tell that to all of our players.
If he played all year, I was thinking that we would [not have him next year], but when you only play in three games and that's all the tape they have of you your junior year. ... I've been in 25 draft rooms, and I've never seen a guy taken off of that ever. I worry about that for him.
Mora's referring to his own time as an NFL coach.
Before that comment, Jack had said Mora supported the decision. Jack's response, via NFL.com:
It definitely surprised me, but I don't know; maybe that's what he felt. I mean, it's a little crazy down there right now. They just suffered their first defeat [to Arizona State], and these are crazy times around here. But I'm still riding with the Bruins.
A few months later at the NFL Combine, Jack said:
When we had this discussion, it was kind of bad timing because they had just lost to Arizona State. We basically sat down and had a discussion face to face. What he said out loud was, he played both sides of the field. He told me the good and the bad. So what he said in the media, it wasn't new to me.
Mora's point about a lack of game film would seem to be somewhat undermined by the Rams' Todd Gurley, a first-rounder who won Rookie of the Year despite only playing in six games as a junior at Georgia. Jack played in 29 total college games, more than 2015 No. 1 pick Jameis Winston did in his two years.
Mora has publicly called out his players several times, both in college and in the NFL, for what it's worth.
This one is oddly reminiscent of another Los Angeles college coach being critical of a player leaving early, as Pete Carroll was with Mark Sanchez back in 2009. Carroll may have been right, but not even Jack's 2015 injury gives reason to think the linebacker's in for a Draft night free fall.