I ran across an article from WildcatBlueNation.com that lists the football Cats that will be draft eligible next year. The list surprised me because I always am talking to friends about all of these players and their potential at the next level. To actually list them and project them to the NFL showed me there should be a lot more Cats selected in the draft next year than in 2012. Let’s take a look at what the article said about the players and how I think they will be used in the NFL:
Senior offensive guard Larry Warford is almost a lock to be drafted. He is widely considered one of the top players at his position in the country, and linemen are always gobbled up as the draft progresses. The real question may be how high he goes. Guards are not typically first round selections, but Warford could push his stock up to the second round with a good senior year
-Warford is an absolute stud, and one of the best guard/center prospects in next year’s draft. He can play any interior offensive line position, and that versatility will make him a very draftable player come next April. Like WBN said, he probably won’t get out of the second round.
Senior center Matt Smith might be the next most likely player to be picked up after Warford. Like guards, centers are rarely snagged in the early rounds and most have to wait until round 3 or later to hear their name called. The pool of talented centers will be deep in 2013, but Smith will have been a three year starter in the SEC by that point and at 6’4 and 300+ pounds, he already has an NFL body as well.
-Another offensive line prospect that will be drafted at some point next year. Smith can expect to go between rounds three and five. Being a three-year SEC starter will allow him to be able to come an contribute to an NFL team immediately.
Injuries have taken their toll on him but Collins Ukwu has some potential. He’s been a consistent player at defensive end since his redshirt freshman season. He’ll need to continue to get bigger, but Ukwu is a versatile end that can help a team in multiple ways. At this point, he could sneak into the late rounds.
-I love Ukwu’s game, but he has to stay healthy. In Rick Minter’s scheme he will continue to play the five-technique position on the defensive line, and will be asked to generate a pass rush. He has the size to play that same position in the NFL, and with a injury-free, productive season could hear his name called by a 3-4 defense. Fourth round ceiling.
Kentucky very rarely has underclassmen enter the draft early, but there might be one or two this year. Unfortunately for the Cats, the guys who are the most likely to leave both play the same position. Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph could use this season to catapult up draft boards. Both guys have NFL size and strength and both play defensive tackle, which might be the most overvalued position in the NFL. If either or both of these two decide to come out early, it would be a major blow to UK’s defense, but who could blame them. Rumph is actually the same age as Randall Cobb and he’s only heading into his junior season.
-Both of these guys had outstanding spring games, each tallying a sack. At 331 lbs, Cobble will will be able to play the nose tackle position in any NFL defensive scheme, but would be most appreciated in a 3-4. Rumph looks like he can play either a run-stuffing five-technique position or a nose tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Either way both these guys have one year of eligibility left and should only leave for the NFL if their stock takes a crazy jump during the season.
Both Martavius Neloms and Mikie Benton have the size and speed to play safety in the NFL. Coach Phillips talked all spring about how they have become better football players and leaders in the backfield of the defense. Both will at least be brought in by an NFL team, and being drafted is not completely out of the question. As far as younger players that have the potential to play at the next level, Max Smith, Avery Williamson, and Bud Dupree will all play on Sundays at some point in the future.