Defying those who considered him a fringe NFL prospect, just as he had dismissed his doubters over his final seasons at UCLA, Dorian Thompson-Robinson did not have to wait until the end of the draft to hear his name called Saturday.
The Bruins’ all-time leader in passing yards was selected early in the fifth round, the Cleveland Browns taking him with the No. 140 pick. It was a major victory for the player whose draft status was so shaky that he considered showing teams his potential to play positions other than quarterback at UCLA’s pro day last month.
The Browns were sold on his ability to do what he does best — throw and run as a dual-threat quarterback. He joins former Pro Bowl selection Deshaun Watson, veteran Joshua Dobbs and third-year pro Kellen Mond in becoming the fourth quarterback on the team’s roster. Watson played in only six games last season after serving an 11-game suspension over sexual assault accusations.
The first UCLA quarterback drafted since Josh Rosen went No. 10 in 2018, Thompson-Robinson will need to continue his recent trajectory, which won him an army of admirers among Bruins fans, to succeed in the NFL.
After struggling with consistency and accuracy over his first three college seasons, Thompson-Robinson departed UCLA as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards (10,710), total offensive yards (12,536), completions (860), touchdown passes (88) and total touchdowns (116). He also ran for 1,827 yards and scored 28 rushing touchdowns, including 12 in his final season.
Along the way, Thompson-Robinson led UCLA to a 9-4 record in 2022 that represented the Bruins’ most victories since 2014. Starting every game for the first time in his career as a fifth-year senior, Thompson-Robinson completed 69.6% of his passes, the sixth-best accuracy in the nation and a school record.
He was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection in his final college season after earning second-team honors the previous two years.
The Bruins also made their first bowl appearance since 2017, losing to Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl, after the Holiday Bowl was canceled in 2021 because of a player shortage related to COVID-19.
Thompson-Robinson will be reunited with former UCLA teammate Demetric Felton Jr. and former Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High teammate Cedric Tillman, a gifted wide receiver out of Tennessee whom the Browns selected in the third round of the draft.