UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo could be the first guard selected in May's draft, which would make sense considering UCLA coach Jim Mora said two scouts told him that Su'a-Filo is the best guard prospect in the draft since Steve Hutchinson in 2001.
Hutchinson was a five-time All-Pro and was selected No. 17 overall, out of Michigan, in 2001.
Su'a-Filo measured 6-foot-4 and 307 pounds at last month's NFL Scouting Combine, and his versatility is a selling point. He played tackle and guard for the Bruins, starting at left tackle in 2009 as a true freshman, at left guard in 2012 after serving a two-year Mormon mission and at left guard (seven games) and left tackle (six games) in 2013.
The versatility appeals to NFL scouts, as Su'a-Filo told the Orange County Register that a few teams said he could play tackle or center at the next level.
Su'a-Filo, who turned 23 on Jan. 1, ran the 40 in 4.88 seconds on Tuesday at UCLA's pro day; he had turned in a time of 5.04 seconds at the combine. His most impressive clocking of the combine came in the 20-yard shuttle, as his time of 4.44 seconds was tied for the second-fastest among all the linemen.
Su'a-Filo, who is an Eagle Scout, is the No. 2 guard on NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock's position rankings, behind David Yankey of Pac-12 rival Stanford. Su'a-Filo won the 2013 Morris Trophy, which signifies the Pac-12's best offensive lineman in a vote of the league's defensive players.
At least two guards have gone in the first round in each of the past two drafts, with three going that early last year. But this run comes on the heels of an eight-year stretch in which just five guards total were first-rounders.
Only one NFL Media draft analyst, Bucky Brooks, has Su'a-Filo going in the first round of the draft, at No. 32 to Seattle; none of the four analysts has Yankey as a first-rounder.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.