Kentucky is set to have a player selected in the NFL draft for the 10th year in a row, and for just the third time in the past seven drafts, it will be an offensive player.
Center Jon Toth is UK’s most draftable player, and he should come off the board at some point on the third day. Running back Stanley “Boom” Williams left after his junior season and is a late-round possibility, though his lack of size (he’s 5 feet 7) and physicality may mean he he has to make a team as an undrafted free agent.
While Kentucky’s consecutive-drafts streak is impressive, there have been just 17 Wildcats total taken in the past nine drafts. Ten of those have been defensive players, and six of those have been selected in the past five drafts.
Here’s a look at the positions where UK alums have fared well – and not so well – in the NFL.
This year’s potential draftees (in rough order of when they can be expected to come off the board): C Jon Toth, RB Stanley “Boom” Williams.
The Wildcats are: “Linebacker U.” They might not be flashy, but the Wildcats have three former linebackers currently starting in the NFL: Avery Williamson (third year, Tennessee Titans), Wesley Woodyard (ninth year, Tennessee Titans) and the most prominent, Super Bowl champion Danny Trevathan (fifth year, Chicago Bears). Add to that list Josh Forrest, who started four games as a rookie for the Los Angeles Rams before injuring his knee in November, and you get a position that’s clearly the cream of a relatively thin crop in Kentucky.
Next in line: Eight Kentucky receivers have played in the NFL since the turn of the millennium, although most have had short careers. Two who didn’t, though, are Stevie Johnson, who played eight years and caught 381 passes in a career spent mostly with the Buffalo Bills, and current Green Bay Packers star Randall Cobb. A converted quarterback, Cobb is the only Wildcats receiver ever to make the Pro Bowl. When healthy, he’s a force in the downfield passing game – and as the New York Giants found out in this year’s wild-card game, a prime target on “Hail Mary” heaves toward the end zone.
Not so much: Cornerback. The Wildcats have produced a handful of safeties who have earned regular NFL playing time during the past decade (Marlon McCree, Winston Guy), but when it comes to corners, the cupboard has been bare. No Kentucky cornerback has held down a long-term starting spot in the NFL since D.J. Johnson, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals from 1989-96.
Over the years: Lots of strength in the middle. Over a 31-year stretch from 1970-2000, the Wildcats had a regular starter at center in the league for all but one of them (1987). That’s because of the combined efforts of Jeff Van Note (an 18-year ironman with the Atlanta Falcons from 1969-1986), Dan Neal (who played for the Baltimore Colts and Chicago Bears from 1973-1983) and especially Hall of Famer Dermontti Dawson, a Pittsburgh Steelers legend from 1988-2000. Next in line could be Toth.
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