The Kentucky football team had several key NFL draft decisions this past offseason, but none were more important than those of Josh Allen and Mike Edwards.
Despite impressive junior seasons and high draft stock, the star linebacker and safety opted to return for one more year at Kentucky, where they will likely be two of the most dominant players at their positions in the SEC.
The decisions weren’t easy, but they are each excited about what should be a very special senior year.
“I had a lot of pros and cons about coming back and leaving,” Allen said. “Coming back, I knew I had a lot of stuff that I needed to fix, a lot of corrections I needed to make. I also wanted to get my weight up, show the league that I can play a 12-game season or more. I decided to come back and mature, get bigger and stronger, work on my pass rush, work on my drops. Just be more fluent and know the game. That’s what I plan on doing.”
In fact, even with high draft stock, NFL teams told him it was in his best interest to come back for one more season.
“They actually told me to go back to school. I talked to a lot of scouts, and they said they wanted to see me progress more throughout the season. But I already knew that, so I just told them ‘okay.’ I know what I need to work on, and they know what I need to work on, so I came back to show them that I’ve grown,” Allen said.
For Edwards, he absolutely wasn’t coming back to Kentucky if a losing season was in the works. He knows this can be a special, special year.
“That’s one of the reasons why I came back, I knew we had something special with this team,” he said. “Over the past few years we’ve gotten a lot better. You know, I wouldn’t have come back if I knew it was going to be a losing season, so I know we have something special this year.”
As far as what separates Edwards from the rest of the defensive backs in the SEC, he believes his versatility stands out.
“A lot of guys can play different positions, but I try to thrive on playing and knowing every position, even at linebacker and defensive line,” he said. “I played a lot of different positions in high school, offense, corner, safety, wherever.”
And that is why the NFL is in love with his game.
“I talked to a lot of NFL guys, and I told them I can play any and every position they need me. If they need a corner, I can do it. If they need a safety, nickel, I can play that. Any of the defensive back positions, I can play it. They love my game a lot, they just wanted me to get my body stronger and bigger. Take my leadership role and expand my game a little more. Keep tackling well,” Edwards said.
We all know about the Honey Badger’s admiration of former LSU safety and current Houston Texan, Tyrann Mathieu. But that’s not the only NFL talent he models his game after.
“I like a lot of defensive backs,” he said. “I like Tyrann Mathieu, Earl Thomas, guys like that. Corners, young guys like Marshon Lattimore and Jalen Ramsey. I think those guys are well-balanced defensive backs, play different positions, and that’s how I want to be.”
If things go as expected this season, we’ll see both Allen and Edwards walking across the stage on the first night of next spring’s NFL Draft.