Ayers' departure not necessarily backbreaking

Worse things have happened to UCLA football.

Like this blow from a year ago. Or even Kevin Prince's oblique strain last summer.

Yeah, Akeem Ayers' decision to forego his senior season and enter the 2011 NFL Draft means UCLA loses its top defensive player. But the Bruins have enough depth to absorb the defection. That's something that couldn't be said when defensive tackle Brian Price declared for the draft last year. With a depleted defensive front, UCLA never looked right.

There were no other Prices on the roster. Ayers' pass-rushing skills should be offset by the return of end Datone Jones, who missed the entire season with a broken foot. Rising sophomore Jordan Zumwalt is a budding star, as is Patrick Larimore -- the duo should be make up for Ayers' abilities at linebacker.

As a projected first-round selection, his decision to enter the draft was a no-brainer. Not doing so would have been a questionable career move.

It's not the worst thing that could have happened.