(Editor's Note: Throughout the spring, DallasCowboys.com will continue its NFL draft coverage by looking at various college Pro Days and workouts around the nation. UCLA hosted its annual Pro Day on Thursday, and UCLA Daily Bruin senior staff writer Matt Cummings was on hand for the event.)
LOS ANGELES -- Though neither one performed drills on the field, the two most buzz-worthy names at UCLA's Pro Day Tuesday were defensive end Takkarist McKinley and cornerback Fabian Moreau.
McKinley, a likely first-round pick who could provide the Cowboys with the pass-rushing boost they need, is still rehabbing from a March 6 shoulder surgery and did not participate in UCLA's Pro Day.
The fourth-ranked edge rusher in Mike Mayock's latest positional rankings and the 20th overall prospect according to Daniel Jeremiah, McKinley is a high-motor player with elite speed off the edge. He has double-digit sack potential at the NFL level, according to Jeremiah.
McKinley said he played with the torn labrum for the past two years, thinking it was just shoulder pain until an MRI revealed the injury this offseason. After the MRI, McKinley decided to still work out at the NFL Combine and underwent surgery the day after the event.
He expects to be back on the field in around four months and said teams haven't seemed too worried about the injury or the fact that he now must rehab.
"Their biggest thing was, 'What is the plan, how is it treated?'" McKinley said. "Once they figured out what the plan was, at the end of the day they're worried about what I do on the field."
The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder leapt into first-round consideration this past fall by recording 10 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles in his first year operating as a true edge rusher.
After transferring from Contra Costa College midway through the 2014 season, McKinley initially played at the five-technique in the Bruins' 3-4 defense, a position that rarely allowed him to use his exceptional speed.
When UCLA switched to a 4-3 this past fall, McKinley got a chance to operate as an edge rusher and he flourished.
"Takk, with all the success he's had here, really just kind of started playing that position," said UCLA coach Jim Mora. "So he's still got great upside, I think that scouts and decision makers recognize that."
Mora said that even while he's unable to work out, McKinley has improved his draft stock simply by meeting with teams.
"As they get to know him through the interview process at the Combine and then individual visits…they get to know his personality, what drives him and how motivated he is," Mora said. "Football's very important to Takk. He's passionate about the game and he's passionate about improving as a player in every way."
Moreau, a possible addition to the Cowboys' secondary, has shot up draft boards thanks to a standout performance at the Combine.
He sat out the on-field action Tuesday after reportedly injuring his chest during the bench press earlier in the day. Mora said that though the injury was still being evaluated, he did not expect it to be serious.
"Anything that happened to him, I believe, is minor and nothing to worry about," Mora said. "His numbers were good enough at the Combine that for him to come out here and work out today isn't that important. And all the teams that are really interested in him will be back to see him in an individual workout."
Mora said he thinks Moreau, who recorded a 4.35-second 40-yard dash and a 38-inch vertical jump at the Combine, can be an impact player in the NFL from day one.
"I've gotten a ton of calls about Fabian – I think at the Combine, he really opened some eyes," Mora said. "All the measurables were there, and teams are looking for cover corners, and he can do that. He can line up and play bump-and-run and cover....It's fun to see people start to recognize what a good player Fabian is."
Moreau finished in the top-10 among cornerbacks in the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump, the broad jump and the 60-yard shuttle at the Combine, but Mora said teams will ultimately make decisions by evaluating Moreau's college tape.
"Any time you perform like he did at the Combine with his size and his speed and his explosiveness, people go back and take a second look," Mora said. "(But) if you ask a general manager in a moment of weakness to be honest with you, they will tell you that it's the tape – look at the tape and see what kind of player he is, and Fabian is a player that has shown improvement every single year.
Moreau came to UCLA as a running back before switching over to cornerback, where he earned all-conference honors in both his sophomore and junior seasons. Then he suffered a Lisfranc foot injury in the third game of the 2015 season, and medically redshirted before returning in 2016 to play a key role in the Bruins' strong secondary.
Other Players of Interest
Defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who met with Dallas at the Senior Bowl in January, measured in at 302 pounds Tuesday, noticeably slimmer than he was during the season.
A former five-star recruit, Vanderdoes was a Freshman All-American and earned honorable-mention all-conference honors in each of his first two years, but tore his ACL during his junior season. This past fall, Vanderdoes returned to once again earn honorable-mention All-Pac-12 acclaim, but didn't impress scouts as much as expected.
"You're gonna go a little bit on potential with Eddie – he didn't have the type of senior year that probably he would have wanted to have," Mora said. "As I talk to the scouts, I say go back and look at his sophomore film, when he was playing some offense, and you can see his athleticism, see his bend. You can see the suddenness and the strength in his hands. And those are the things that I think they'll look for.
"I think Eddie's going to be an outstanding NFL player because he has initial quickness, he has power, he plays with leverage," Mora continued. "I think he can play nose and he can play three-technique. When you can do those things, I think there's a value-add there."
Linebacker Jayon Brown, a projected mid-round pick, said he ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and bench-pressed 20 reps at 225 pounds, both improvements on his Combine numbers.
"I feel like I made a big improvement," Brown said.
Mora said that when talking to NFL teams, he compares the 6-foot, 225-pound Brown to former Pro-Bowler Sam Mills, whom he coached with the New Orleans Saints.
"A guy that they thought was too small but he got it done because he was smart, instinctive, worked at it, studied the game," Mora said. "Jayon's got a lot of those qualities. I think Jayon has the ability to go in right away and be an impact special teams player, and then probably grow into a nickel role and then hopefully into a starter role."
Matt Cummings covers UCLA football and basketball for The Daily Bruin. You can follow him on Twitter @MattCummingsDB.