We all know about the struggles the Colts Offensive Line had throughout the 2012 season, so any kind of talent infusion is welcomed at this point, even a late rounder, especially if that guy has experience playing both Guard and Tackle. One such guy is Jeff Baca from UCLA.
Baca made 45 career starts with the Bruins, but it was certainly a different route to getting there. He started eight games as a Freshman back in 2008, becoming the first true Freshman to start a game on the Offensive Line for UCLA since 2004, all at Left Tackle. Talk about getting thrown in with the wolves. As a Sophomore in 2009 he started all 13 games, this time at Left Guard. His Junior season in 2011 (I'll explain 2010 in a minute) he injured his ankle in Spring practice, causing him to miss the first game of the season, but he started the final 12 games of the season, 11 of which at Tackle. Than last year he started 12 games, 11 of which at Guard. When I say he has experience playing both positions, he basically switched positions every year.
In 2010 Baca was ruled academically ineligible, but not due to lack of effort. Baca was a pre-med major his first two season, a very serious undertaking for a major college football player. As he explained it, he got behind and didn't do so well in some class, and was ruled ineligible after losing his appeal. He used his red-shirt for that season, switched to Political Science, and had no issues his last three years in Westwood.
His Combine interview was not transcribed, but a common question for most players is what player they look up to, or which one they model their game after. Baca's favorite? Future Colts Ring of Honor member Jeff Saturday. He already sounds OK in my book. He also ran the fastest 20 yard shuttle drill for OL at the Combine, at 4.44 seconds. To give you some perspective, Baca would have finished 11th in the Defensive Line group, just 0.05 behind LSU's Barkevious Mingo.
Baca's being projecting in either the 6th or 7th round, a good place for reserve Offensive Line to be drafted. Some profiles think he could start next season, and a guy who has 20+ starts at both Guard and Tackle surely has a leg up on guys that can only play one position. He's being projected a predominantly a Guard, but obviously in a pinch he can shift over and play Tackle.
Scouting Profile from NFL.com:
As tenacious a blocker as there is in this draft class. Strong punch in pass pro, stuns tackles to knock them backwards and works to move the line, not just hold his ground. Quick to recognize blitzes. Re-directs blitzers out of the hole, keeps his feet moving to take them away from the play.
Average height and size for an NFL offensive lineman. Stronger defenders can push him back with a power rush, and can use their superior strength to rip off blocks or control his upper body.
POSITIVES: Displays light, nimble feet when asked to absorb the bull-rush, and does a good job of bending his lower half to anchor. Exhibits impressive upper-half flexibility and core strength to twist his torso and hold off angular penetrators.
NEGATIVES: Isn't a great athlete. Displays heavy feet laterally, and has a tendency to get too upright when dropping into pass protection. Lacks suddenness to change direction rapidly and must rely on contact to slow his opponent and compensate for average foot quickness.
COMPARES TO: John Moffitt, OG, Seattle Seahawks - Baca's physical style of play and natural flexibility remind me of the former Wisconsin Badger, and the two also share similar limitations in pass protection. Like Moffitt, Baca could compete for a starting role, based on his toughness, awareness and relentless motor.
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