UCLA Football: Three Bruins sign as undrafted free agents


With the 2018 NFL Draft in the books, former UCLA football linemen Najee Toran, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Matt Dickerson are set to sign pro contracts after going undrafted.

It is all over, America. The NFL Draft has concluded for another year and 32 teams have restocked their roster. Most did so by way of the draft, but teams also picked up a few players that didn’t get drafted, which is how three UCLA football players found themselves with a pro team.

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Despite missing out on the draft experience, OL Najee Toran, DL Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and DL Matt Dickerson still find themselves heading to the pros.

Toran heads north to the San Francisco 49ers who are looking for some help on the line after a few departures. Toran found himself on both sides of the line of scrimmage during his time at UCLA. Early on he failed to meet expectations as an offensive guard, so the coaches switched him to the defensive line which needed help with depth and did a decent job at tackle.

Last season he found himself back on the offensive line, returning to the guard spot. The Bruin offense was once again in flux with their third OC in as many years, so the progress was slow, but it was indeed progress. UCLA improved their rushing offense (albeit minimally) and had the fourth best passing offense in the country. Toran, though he often let defenders slip past him, has the ability to be a lead blocker, but he could also do with some more mass.

Tuioti-Mariner looks to be heading to the Atlanta Falcons, meeting up with former teammate Takkarist McKinley, so maybe the former Bruin can put in a good word for him, but it might take more than that. The Falcons are not the deepest, but they have some definitive role players, so JTM is going to prove to them that he belongs if he wants to make the roster.

What Tuioti-Mariner brings to the table is a big frame, one that can disrupt blockers and plug holes in the line. Though he also contributed to one of the worst rush defenses in the country, he has been able to put pressure on offenses. He had the sixth most tackles on the team with 52, but was a terror in the backfield with a team-high 9.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks.

Dickerson finds himself heading to the Tennessee Titans who have a few serviceable defense tackles, so if he wants to stand out and land a spot, he is going to have to use is size and length. At 6’5, can see over the line and take up more space, but he also has to improve on shedding blocks.

Last season he was showed progress on the interior, but that was stunted when he suffered a collarbone injury midway through the season. When 100% healthy, and with some pro coaching, he could hopefully find himself sticking around Tennessee.



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