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Kentucky’s NFL Draft Drought Will End in 2019

When Roger Gooddell is received with boos at the podium of the 2018 NFL Draft, he will probably not call a Kentucky Wildcat’s name.  For the second consecutive year, UK will not have an NFL Draft pick.

Injuries are at fault more than talent.  Jon Toth was projected to fall between the third and fifth round before suffering a back injury that required surgery just weeks before the draft.  Offensive tackle Cole Mosier had similar NFL projections prior to his senior season, until a knee injury ended his UK career.

There’s an outside shot Mosier could hear his name called before the draft concludes on Saturday.  Austin MacGinnis, Juice Johnson, Kyle Meadows and Courtney Love may as well, but they will likely have to wait and sign with teams as free agents.

There’s no shame in that.  As Jacob Tamme once told me, “Whether you’re a first rounder or a free agent, everybody gets a shot.”  However, it will be a shot to the Kentucky football program’s pride if the Cats do have a two-year NFL Draft drought, something that has not happened since 2006-07.

You remember what happened in 2006-07.  That talent hung around and four players were selected in the 2008 NFL Draft.  Kentucky could double that number in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Josh Allen

Kentucky’s All-SEC pass rusher would have been selected as high as the third round in the 2018 NFL Draft, but opted to return for one final year.  He’s now projected as a first round pick (No. 23 overall by Walter Football) in the 2019 draft.

Allen is using the extra year to gain much-needed strength, following a path that’s similar to Bud Dupree’s.  However, Dupree’s story isn’t what convinced him to return for his senior season; it was his son.

Mike Edwards

The Kentucky Badger had similar draft projections in 2018, somewhere between the third and fifth round.  Overshadowed by other elite safeties in the SEC, Edwards can make a statement in his senior season and claim First Team All-SEC Honors.  On pace to become Kentucky’s best tackling defensive back in school history, Edwards can explode into the late stages of the first round with a few big plays from a few different positions in the secondary.

C.J. Conrad

Remember Hayden Hurst?  He’s the tight end from South Carolina that was supposed to be the best in the SEC, until he tried to jump over Chris Westry.

This guy will probably be a first round pick tonight.  If you don’t believe Conrad will be in a similar situation next year, you’re out of your damn mind.

Also, C.J. doesn’t need to catch 50 passes to be a high draft pick.  I know it will anger fans if that doesn’t happen, but Vince Marrow is adamant that whether he catches seven or 70, Conrad will be a hot commodity in 2019.

Benny Snell

Did you really think Benny is coming back for a fourth year?  Folks, enjoy him while you can.

Jordan Jones, Denzil Ware

The previous four players are essentially locks in the first three rounds.  The outlook for Ware and Jones is unclear.

Jones has the production of an NFL linebacker, but not the size.  That’s why he missed much of last season with an injury and will miss the entire summer.  If Jones gets healthy and produces numbers comparable to his 2016 season, NFL teams will take him in a heartbeat.

Ware is the original Blitz Bro, but he does not share Allen’s length and explosiveness.  However, his frame is big enough to tack on weight and potentially become a 4/3 defensive end.  A fringe pick in 2017, he can secure a spot between the fourth and sixth rounds with a consistent senior season.

The Secondary

Outside of Edwards, the rest of the secondary is filled with wild cards.

Upon seeing Chris Westry the first time, I thought, “that guy is going to be a star in the NFL.”  He’s been inconsistent, but a big senior year could make my initial reaction true.  Derrick Baity and Lonnie Johnson are massive human beings could post surprising numbers and slide into the draft after an excellent year.

There’s a ton of potential, but it all comes down to production.  Kentucky’s secondary underperformed in 2017.  If they play up to their talent in 2018, Edwards could have two or three other UK defensive backs join him in the draft.

The Offensive Line

Kentucky could have two offensive linemen taken in the 2019 draft.  Bunchy Stallings is the line’s top pro prospect.  He has a ton of experience, plenty of nastiness and the measurements to earn a fifth to seventh round selection.  Offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei may be drafted as well, but as an offensive guard.  He’s too small to be an NFL tackle, the position he has played most of his Kentucky career, but his strength and athleticism could be enough to get drafted.

The biggest problem for Bunchy and Big George: they are interior offensive linemen.  Offensive guard is probably the least-drafted position (aside from specialists).  GMs need good tackles to protect their quarterbacks and solid centers to be the rock of the offensive line, but most GMs believe they can mold a lineman into a great OG, that’s why they don’t need to waste a pick on them.

Kentucky football has not been well-represented in the NFL Draft for a few years.  If the Cats complete the best season of Mark Stoops’ tenure, the number of draft picks could sky-rocket into the double-digits.  Even if that doesn’t happen, there are at least four Wildcats who will hear their name called in the 2019 NFL Draft.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

10 Comments for Kentucky’s NFL Draft Drought Will End in 2019

    12:01 am April 27, 2018 Permalink

    The REAL story here is, if Stoops doesn’t move the needle past mediocre this year, he isn’t going to. They should have had a 9 or even 10-win season this past year (including beating either FLA or UT, and a very winnable bowl game), and yet they fell apart the 2nd half of the season like they always do, finishing 2-5 after starting 5-1.

    He can’t afford anymore coaching mistakes that have cost them games in years past. He’ll have more talent at his disposal this year as he’ll likely ever have, so he better figure out how to coach them up to win the games we should, and need to win. No more excuses.

  2. Jiminy Crickets
    12:37 am April 27, 2018 Permalink

    I thought we were recruiting talent like never before? So what happen?

  3. Jiminy Crickets
    12:40 am April 27, 2018 Permalink

    Serious question. Has stoops had any players that he recruited, that’s been drafted? I know Big Z, but he was a top juco with NFL prospects when he got here.

  4. My Dixie Wrecked
    2:32 am April 27, 2018 Permalink

    But, but, but….Stupes said we’re ready to compete for an SEC title! Must’ve been talking about the basketball team.

  5. RajonTheDon9
    5:22 am April 27, 2018 Permalink

    My neck, my back, like my heroin and my crack.

  6. Elwood BLU
    12:45 pm April 27, 2018 Permalink

    We were one play away in three different games last year that could have lead to wins. The article outlines a lot of great talent coming back for an exciting season next year and of course nothing but negative comments from spoiled fans that should stick to basketball. Don’t like what’s going with the football team, don’t go, don’t watch the games and keep your complaining to yourself.

      1:52 pm April 27, 2018 Permalink

      That’s always the excuse. UK has been “one play away” for decades.

    • ukcamel
      2:38 pm April 27, 2018 Permalink

      No, we’ve had many years where we were usually beaten by the third quarter. Do you remember Joker? Losing 40-0 to Vandy? If you aren’t a troll or 14 years old I bet you do remember that.

  7. WestWorld
    12:59 pm April 27, 2018 Permalink

    Almost the exact same article was posted on Cats Illustrated Dot Com in the House of Blue 8 hours earlier… interesting…

  8. benmac7
    7:28 pm April 27, 2018 Permalink

    Hmmm… In the first five picks of the 2nd round, three of the picks were Offensive Guards. If you are going to post something, make sure you know what you are talking about.