Last year Bud Dupree heard his name called on the first night of the draft, taken off the board with the #22 pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Za’Darius Smith had to wait until Saturday, selected in the 4th round at #122 overall by the Baltimore Ravens.
This year’s draft eligible Wildcats could be waiting even longer.
Josh Forrest, A.J. Stamps, C.J. Johnson, Melvin Lewis and Jordan Swindle are the five highest-rated Wildcats by NFL scouts. However, they have not been able to exponentially improve their stock leading into the draft at All-American games, Pro Day or the NFL Combine.
Forrest and Stamps were initially on the fringe of the seventh round and free agency. Forrest struggled at the combine in Indianapolis, apparently fighting off an illness at the time, but managed to bounce back at Pro Day. Stamps never did anything bad, but never did anything great.
The other three have showed promise as of late.
Scouts do not like C.J. Johnson’s measurements, but he could be a surprise success coming out of free agency. Melvin Lewis could have been a lock for the league before his injury. The one silver lining from the injury is that timing is on his side. He has been able to workout and could start using his injured leg in drills soon, if he hasn’t already. Swindle might have more momentum than any other player. The offensive tackle had visits with the Rams, Browns and Texans earlier this week.
Last year was an exciting first night, but you could be waiting all weekend to hear a Wildcat’s name called. However, that might not be a bad thing. “Everybody gets a shot,” Jacob Tamme told me at Pro Day. Signing as a free agent will give them all an opportunity, and maybe an even better one because they get a say in where they are going.