The week in front of the NFL scouts has come and gone with three seniors from Mark Stoops’ defensive backs room making a splash in Mobile. The Wildcats who were selected to play in the biggest all-star event of NFL Draft season all did some things to help improve their draft stock.
Yesterday, the Senior Bowl wrapped up with the North beating the South squad by a count of 34-24. Despite their team taking the loss, we saw some good things from the former Wildcats on the big stage.
Perhaps the least touted member of the UK secondary had the biggest week at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Lonnie Johnson had the scouts and multiple NFL personalities salivating at his play all week.
— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 24, 2019
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 24, 2019
The former junior college player from Gary, Indiana consistently made competitive plays in practice and has a lot of the measurables that NFL franchises are looking for in a defensive back. Johnson checked in at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, but what scouts really love about him are his long arms that helps him cover ground in coverage.
In Daniel Jeremiah’s first top 50 list of the draft season, there were a hand full of corners listed but none were ranked in the top 30. Georgia’s Deandre Baker and Washington’s Byron Murphy are considered the top guys in the class, but after that it’s a crapshoot. Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin was tagged by many to be a corner that could potentially play his way into first round status with a big effort at the Senior Bowl. From some reports, it appears Johnson possibly out performed him this week.
The senior made himself some money and he’s set on becoming the second junior college prospect to be drafted during the Mark Stoops era. The performance put together this past week by Johnson gives him a great chance to be a second round pick. As of right now, it would be a significant surprise if he lasted into the third round. That’s pretty good for a guy who many considered UK’s fourth best starter in the secondary.
Show out at the NFL Combine in a few weeks and there’s a puncher’s chance that Lonnie Johnson could play himself into the backend of the first round.
The safety and slot corner from Cincinnati left Kentucky with one crazy productive career. The four-year starter was only the second defensive back in program history to record over 300 career tackles. He was consistently one of the most productive defensive backs in the SEC. After spurning the draft last year, Edwards was looking to display his multi-dimensional skill in front of the bevy of NFL scouts in Mobile. The biggest takeaway appeared to be is versatility and competitive spirit.
— Charles Davis (@CFD22) January 26, 2019
Edwards flashed his skill as both a slot corner and a deep safety. The senior has played a lot of football and he’s seen it all playing all over the field for Kentucky. NFL teams love his versatility and despite being just 5-foot-10, he’ll have a lot of suitors take a look at him in the third and fourth rounds.
The free safety out of Lima, Ohio was the one you heard about the least this past week at the Senior Bowl. West finished the game with three tackles and was constantly found playing the box. For anyone that followed his career closely, that should not be a surprise.
The physical safety prospect checked in at 5-foot-11, 207 pounds and has the closing speed that all scouts are looking for in a safety at the next level. Some of the reports in practice were that West struggled in one-on-one coverage drills. However, the team that selects West will be picking him for his physicality against the run and the top end speed he will bring to the table.
West will get drafted primarily to be a stalwart on special teams in addition to a reserve safety who can play multiple spots. Moving forward, it’s going to be imperative for the redshirt senior to test well at the NFL Combine and UK’s pro day. If he does what everyone expects, he could end up as high as the late third or early fourth round.
Stay tuned at KSR as we’ll keep you updated on all of the draft coverage for the former Wildcats. Now that the all-star circuit has wrapped up, it appears that Kentucky is in very good shape to have their best NFL Draft in the history of the program.
Josh Allen is a lock to be a top five pick and there seems to be a chance that he could be selected first overall. Lonnie Johnson is a lock for the second round and could move himself into first round consideration with a big performance at the NFL Combine. Mike Edwards still seems like a pretty solid bet for the third round. There he will likely be joined by Benny Snell unless someone decides to pull the trigger in the second round on the bruising tailback. Darius West, Derrick Baity, Bunchy Stallings, and C.J. Conrad all appear to be guys who will be selected in the later rounds.
The next few weeks have a chance to provide some huge positive movement for the program. Kentucky is set to have a record setting draft weekend that in the long run can improve their recruiting profile. There is now proof on concept in Lexington. First was the 10-win season and now comes the draft success to sell your program.
One step at a time.