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KSR’s Ultimate NFL Draft Guide presented by SHIELD and Sword Performance

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The NFL makes its way to Cleveland, Ohio this weekend for the biggest non-game event on the sports calendar. The NFL Draft will take place at the home of Baker Mayfield with seven rounds and 259 picks over three days this weekend. ESPN, the NFL Network and every other large media outlet you can think of will be there to cover all the action.

For the University of Kentucky, things project to be much different this year at the draft. The Wildcats could have as many as seven players selected this weekend to go along with a couple of others that just might be able to sneak in at the end of the seventh round.

The KSR Draft Guide makes its well-anticipated return and this year is going to be a little bit different than last year’s version. With numerous potential draft picks, we are going to focus on all of the Kentucky Wildcats involved in this year’s crop. The weekend could be jam-packed with players going off the board on all three days. Here is everything you need to know about the 2021 draft — testing numbers, player descriptions, potential landing spots, round expectations, strengths, and weaknesses.

KSR’s Ultimate NFL Draft Guide has all the information you could need for this year’s draft.

Day One

Jamin Davis: Perhaps the biggest riser on draft boards through the cycle is the class of 2017 recruit out of South Georgia. In his first year starting, Davis became one of the best off-ball linebackers in college football by recording 102 tackles in just 10 games with three interceptions. The scouting community has fallen in love with his film.

As the testing numbers show, Davis is an elite athlete for the position. At Kentucky’s Pro Day, the linebacker posted some ridiculous numbers. The high-level athlete was clocked at 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, had a vertical jump of 42 inches, a broad jump of 11 feet, and a large wingspan of 79 7/8. These are insane numbers.

Davis is a sideline-to-sideline player that seems to be a great fit for modern football. At 6-4 and 234 pounds, the linebacker is more than big enough to make plays in between the tackles but what separates him is the ability to play in space. Davis made a ton of plays in pass coverage and has the traits to be a very effective blitzer. A wrap-and-drag tackler in space, his long reach gives him an advantage when facing shifty skill players in space. There’s not a whole lot of thump and drive as a tackler, but teams can live with that due to the twitchiness that allows him to make explosive plays on the move. This is a modern three-down ‘backer.

The one-year starter appears to have turned into a first-round lock. The mocks seem to be all over the place, but the Washington Football Team at No. 19, the Cleveland Browns at No. 26, the New Orleans Saints at No. 28, and the Green Bay Packers at No. 29 all seem like possibilities. The only question now is if Davis will be the first linebacker taken off the board over Penn State’s Micah Parsons and Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

What a rise for the former three-star recruit that slowly got better each season. Keep your eyes glued to the Browns on Thursday. That team needs inside linebacker help in the worst way.

Day Two

Kelvin Joseph: The LSU transfer had high expectations after transferring to Kentucky, and the former top-50 recruit mostly delivered. In nine starts, Joseph recorded a very impressive four interceptions playing as one of the best cornerbacks in the SEC for most of the season. There were some bad moments, but the former blue-chipper flashed dominance at times thanks to tremendous shadow man coverage skills and excellent twitchiness for the position.

After a late-season opt-out, the high-profile transfer entered the NFL Draft and has been one of this year’s top cornerback prospects. Joseph posted a strong 40-yard dash time (4.34) at Kentucky’s Pro Day to go along with a 35-inch vertical and 10’8″ broad jump. The skillset is tantalizing.

Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans need to address the cornerback position early in this draft. The same goes for the Green Bay Packers. With each having a late pick in the second-round, keep an eye out for the two AFC teams and the NFC North powerhouse who have all had success with Kentucky players recently.

Day Three

Drake Jackson: The former top-150 recruit from Versailles (Ky.) Woodford County High, Jackson started 44 consecutive games to end his career at Kentucky while earning All-SEC honors in each of his final two seasons wearing the blue and white.

Jackson is the smallest center in the draft (6-1, 293 pounds) while the power at the point of attack could be worrisome going up against interior players in the NFL after having the smallest hands in this group (8 1/4). However, Jackson is a zone scheme center and figures to be a great fit for any team that heavily utilizes the wide zone with the play-action game off of it. Thanks to some terrific technique, an electric first step off the line, and high football IQ, Jackson could hear his name called in the fourth-round but should at least be gone by the end of the fifth.

Keep an eye on the 49ers, Browns, Rams, and Packers. Each runs the wide zone scheme, and all need help on the interior of the offensive line. Green Bay just lost star center Corey Linsley to the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency.

Landon Young: One of the highest-ranked recruits in the Mark Stoops era, Young lived up to the hype in his time at Kentucky. Bouncing back from an ACL injury, the left tackle started every game the last two seasons for the Wildcats and followed it up with a terrific performance at Kentucky’s Pro Day.

The tackle prospect showed some tremendous strength with 34 reps on the bench press to go along with big hands (10 1/8), long arms (33 3/4), and a solid wingspan (81 3/4). On tape, Young is very intriguing because of his power in the run game but the reps just aren’t there from a pass protection standpoint due to Kentucky’s run-heavy offense.

A position change is most likely coming for Young, and the 6-6 mauler could be best-suited sliding inside to guard at the next level. High character combined with great play strength is a very good combination to have along the offensive line. The Chargers were spotted talking with Young at Kentucky’s Pro Day and need help along the offensive line. With two picks in the sixth-round, keep an eye out for Young to potentially go protect Justin Herbert.

Young figures to be a tremendous fit for an offense that utilizes gap schemes in the run game.

Quinton Bohanna: The low three-star recruit in the class of 2017 out of Memphis, Bohanna quickly exceeded expectations as he started games as a true freshman. The 6-foot-4 and 327-pound anchor is a two-gap player that will have to be a specific scheme fit for an NFL team.

With massive hands (10 7/8) and a long wingspan (80 7/8), Bohanna can easily control two gaps at the line and make things difficult for centers and guards. However, there’s not a lot of tackles on tape as the space-eater specializes in controlling blockers. Those NFL teams wanting a pass rusher along the interior will not be interested.

Projecting where the nose tackle will fall on draft boards is very difficult. Teams that do not value the position won’t be interested until late. However, others may see high value in the skillset and jump on early. Bohanna could come off the board at any point on Saturday.

Brandin Echols: The junior college transfer became an immediate starter for Kentucky in 2019, and was a rock-solid piece for the defense the last two seasons. Echols recorded 108 tackles with 11 pass breakups in two years as a starter. Despite measuring in at just 5-foot-10 and 179 pounds, the Mississippi native put together dynamite testing numbers during Kentucky’s Pro Day. However, the lack of interceptions is a concern when it comes to playmaking in coverage.

With a 42.5 inch vertical to go with an 11’4″ broad jump, the numbers are ridiculous for the small corner. Echols could have very well turned into a draft pick from an undrafted free agent during the pro day workout. The size will be an issue on the outside, but the tackling ability and athleticism could make the JUCO product an interesting development prospect at slot corner.

Look for the other starting Kentucky cornerback to potentially come off the board in the sixth or seventh round.

Max Duffy: The former Ray Guy Award winner averaged 46 yards per punt over three years as the starting punter at Kentucky. The fan-favorite showed off many unique deliveries while also proving he can bomb the ball from traditional punting formations.

Handicapping punters in the draft can be tricky. This all comes down to team need, but expect Duffy to hear his name called at some point.

Long Shots

Phil Hoskins: The rare junior college transfer that spent four years in college, Hoskins cashed in with a very good final season. The Toledo, Ohio native recorded 30 tackles and brings some great size to the position. At 6-4 with a wingspan of 83 3/8, the former high three-star recruit should be heavily sought after in the undrafted free agent market unless someone takes a flyer on the defensive tackle late.

Boogie Watson: A former low three-star recruit, Watson would go on to play a ton of football for Kentucky and Sam linebacker finishing his career with 28.5 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks, and six forced fumbles. The three-year starter was a dependable piece on each of Brad White’s defenses in Lexington.

At Kentucky’s Pro Day, Watson checked in at just 6-foot-1 with a wingspan under 77 inches. His long arms (33 1/4) give him a chance in outside pass-rush situations, but this is just not the size you will see for outside rushers at the next level. The bad 40-yard dash time (4.77) also really hurts.

Watson will be an undrafted free agent, but it is likely a team will try to translate him to an inside, off-ball linebacker. The DMV native confirmed with media he has been working at that due to the request of certain franchises. This is a tweener prospect with unfortunate testing numbers which will outweigh the production we saw on the field.

A.J. Rose: After rushing for 1,971 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 5.78 yards per rush, Rose is off to the NFL. The one-cut runner is not a great tackle breaker, so his staying power will be directly linked to how he does as a receiver. Unfortunately, that skillset was never utilized at Kentucky. In the right spot, Rose could stick around on the practice squad and become a developmental third-down back with a high upside.

Article written by Adam Luckett

Twitter: @AdamLuckettKSR