Sanyika, Beck Await Draft Day

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Sekou Sanyika's life will never be easier than it is right now.

The former Cal linebacker graduated last semester and for the last few months he has been putting all his efforts into improving his stock for the NFL Draft, which takes place this weekend.

"It's been cool," Sanyika said of his pre-Draft lifestyle. "I don't have to worry about school and I don't have a job, so all I do is workout and chill."

And if that doesn't sound nice enough, Sanyika is currently chillin' in Miami, where he will receive the call from his agent telling him which team has selected him in the Draft.

But Sanyika isn't the only former Cal linebacker who will be taken in this year's selections, and he probably won't be the first ex-Bears linebacker picked either. Despite a college career plagued by injury, Matt Beck will also be drafted this weekend and may go as early as the third round, depending on how big a risk teams interested in drafting him are willing to take.

"Matt Beck will definitely get drafted," Cal head football coach Tom Holmoe said. "He's a hard kid to measure because healthy, he might be a first- or second-rounder. They've got to wonder where he's at right now. I don't know how high, but he's going to probably go higher than suspected."

The 6-foot-3, 234-pound inside linebacker missed at least one game every year with the Bears and suffered serious shoulder injury his sophomore year. Beck's Cal career came to an abrupt end when he was chop-blocked by a Nebraska player in the second game of last season and suffered a sprain in his left foot that required surgery.

But even with a history of injuries, Beck's reputation as an intense competitor and skilled technician will make him a tempting pick for a team in need of a linebacker. His talents in coverage as well as his powerful run-stopping ability make him a player that most NFL teams could use.

Beck's ferocious persona has not been limited to his on-field engagements. In high school, he was had some questionable judgement calls that may be a red flag to some teams. He was charged with driving under the influence as a prep, but he seems to have matured. His character has not been questioned since he came to Cal.

Sanyika has established himself as a safer pick than his teammate, and has been projected to go around the fourth round or later. He is a rangy and athletic linebacker who has the ability to play the inside and outside positions.

Sanyika is not as good at stopping the run as Beck is, but he has the ability to make big plays in the backfield.

Last season, Sanyika broke the Bears' record for career tackles for a loss on the way to earning first-team All-Pac-10 honors. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound linebacker has the body and the quickness to make him an effective NFL pass-rusher.

"Sanyika is a very good player," Holmoe said. "A lot of people are saying, 'How come he's not projected to go in the first round?' There are a lot of good linebackers in this draft and lot of good defensive players in general. He's going to make a good pro. He's a good kid (and) he'll be happy on Draft day."

Perhaps Sanyika's biggest attributes are intangible - his head and his hands. Sanyika has a degree in economics to hold in his hands, which are described as "boxer type," by Pro Football Weekly. Sanyika himself mentioned intelligence as something scouts liked about him at February's Draft Combine in Indianapolis, an event he said was as taxing as any he had experienced.

"The Combine was extremely tiring," Sanyika said. "I was completely drained by the end of the weekend. There were about 10 hours of interviews and five to six hours of workouts a day. It was a very exhausting weekend, the longest weekend I've ever had."

Sanyika's's versatility will make him a popular and safe mid-round pick. He said the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys have expressed interest in his services.

The Draft starts Saturday at 9 a.m. The first- through third-round selections will be made Saturday, and the Draft concludes Sunday, when the fourth through seventh rounds take place.


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