Good evening, everyone! I hope you all have had a great Friday and are looking forward to the weekend.
With (unfortunately) no Kentucky football game on Saturday, I have decided to update the BBN on some things within the program to hopefully help with your football fix.
We’ll wait a little while for some of the big season developments, but until then, let’s talk about the big orders of business.
I’ll start with the big topic of the day: Josh Allen announcing he would play in the Citrus Bowl to settle “unfinished business” with his teammates.
Sources tell KSR the projected top-five draft selection strongly considered skipping the bowl game, but after bringing in some of the awards and accolades over the last week, decided he wanted to play one last time with his teammates.
There are obvious worries that come with this decision, but I’ve been told there was a conversation between the potential bowl holdouts about giving it one more go that meant a lot to each of them. It’s an extremely tight-knit group of seniors, and they all want to go out with a bang together with a chance to win ten games for the first time since 1977.
Allen was the big one, but there were still decisions to be made with several players.
Beyond Allen, I have been told all other Wildcats are planning on participating. (Yes, that includes Benny Snell)
Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen announces he has "unfinished business," will play with his teammates in the Citrus Bowl. Sources tell KSR all potential bowl holdouts (including Snell) will participate. https://t.co/p6I4c4zzKG
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) December 7, 2018
With this news, Kentucky is expected be at full-strength going into their matchup with No. 12 Penn State on the big stage. The entire team knows that magnitude of this bowl and the historical value that comes with it. Like they decided last offseason during the NFL Draft process, this is their final run with each other and want to make the most of it.
Senior Bowl/East-West Shrine Game
After the bowl is when things get interesting.
I’m told (as of now) Allen will NOT participate in the Senior Bowl, though he will go down to Mobile, AL and be with his other Kentucky teammates during the process. My understanding of the situation is that when it came down to decision time for postseason play, Allen wanted to make sure he participated in a game with a direct impact on the win/loss column and help Kentucky cap off the historic season.
That being said, Mike Edwards, Darius West, and Lonnie Johnson WILL participate in the event, where the expectation is their draft stock will see a solid jump competing against elite competition on national television.
In the East-West Shrine Game, Kentucky representatives Derrick Baity, C.J. Conrad, and Jordan Jones are all also expected to play.
When All-Star game season comes to a close, it’ll be time to turn our focus to…
A few days back, I talked to a few people within the organization about the upcoming NFL Draft and what kind of feedback they have heard from scouts to this point.
And so far, things have been really, really good. It comes as no surprise, but the school is absolutely anticipating a record-breaking draft class.
The initial number of expected draftees I heard was eight, with two players potentially sliding in the late rounds to push that number to ten. That seems to be the sweet spot for the Wildcats at this point.
The Kentucky football staff is expecting eight to ten players from the current group of 2019 draft prospects to land on active NFL rosters next season, sources tell KSR. Eight picks likely.
Kentucky has only had eight players drafted over the last eight years.
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) December 6, 2018
So who might those players be?
For one, Benny Snell is expected to enter the NFL Draft, and it’s a decision the coaching staff has been 100 percent supportive of. Nothing final has been made, and no “official” decision is expected to come until after the bowl. But both sides of the equation understand running backs have a shorter lifespan in the NFL, and he wouldn’t have much to gain by returning to school.
Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, CJ Conrad, Snell, Derrick Baity, Bunchy Stallings, Darius West, Jordan Jones, Lonnie Johnson, and George Asafo-Adjei. At the time of my conversations, those were the ten the coaching staff expected to be on active NFL rosters next season.
When I followed up with another source within the program a bit later about the over/under being set at eight, the response was pretty interesting.
“(Eight) at the very least,” they said.
And it makes sense now, as Mark Stoops dropped a bombshell report this afternoon that he expects 11 or 12 players drafted this spring. He also added the fact that Snell (no surprise) and Logan Stenberg asked for official feedback from the league, two obvious NFL-caliber prospects.
NFL scouts have always been enamored with Chris Westry’s length and feel he could be an excellent project piece with high potential. Could he be the 11th? Does Stenberg surprise folks and enter early to make it 12? Do scouts feel Dorian Baker would translate better as an NFL receiver than he did in college? He certainly has the size.
Those 13 seem to be the core group of draft-eligible guys with shots this offseason. I’d be shocked to see 12 guys go in the first seven rounds, but I absolutely believe they can reach that double-digit number.
That wouldn’t just make history, it would blow past Kentucky draft records out of the water.
Regardless, these next few months are going to be pretty massive for the future of this football program.