Heading into the NFL Draft it looked like one of the best ever for the Wildcats. If not for a late-round surprise the Cats would have had the most players taken in 40 years. Even so, it was great publicity for the football program. With six players chosen and several more signing free-agent deals drafts aren’t just a basketball thing in Lexington anymore. Let’s check out who went where and how they fit in with our 2021 Kentucky NFL Draft Recap.
Kentucky Wildcats 2021 NFL Draft Recap
Playing With The Heavy Hitters
As mentioned in the beginning, six Cats were chosen over three days. That puts them in the upper tier of not only the SEC but college football. Kentucky finished fifth in the SEC behind, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and LSU. In addition, they also tied for fifth in the nation.
RT if someone from your school got picked in the 2021 NFL Draft! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/AWF6OLkm6f
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) May 2, 2021
With six players selected the Cats set a modern draft record beating the five chosen in 2019. They were only one-off of equaling the mark from 1979 of seven. Of course, the draft was 12 rounds back then.
Mr. Davis Goes To Washington
By now you are familiar with the situation that moved Jamin Davis into Kentucky’s lineup. Taking full advantage he finished with 102 tackles, which not only ranked him second in the SEC, but seventh in the nation. In addition, he had three touchdowns including one for a touchdown. As a result, Last Word named him Kentucky’s defensive player of the year.
Following the announcement he was turning pro, Davis was considered a third-round prospect at best. However, an eye-popping pro day shot him up into first-round projections. In fact, several mock drafts had him going to the Washington Football team at 19 and that’s exactly where he ended up.
That's history right there, you understand? pic.twitter.com/iR0GHVyU91
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) April 30, 2021
Davis’ versatility was a big draw for Washington as he can play any linebacker position. He joins a group anchored by Jonathan Bostic and Cole Holcomb, who combined for 190 tackles last season. With some established, talented players Davis can come in, learn the system and not have to contribute right away. He’s the third first-round pick for Mark Stoops joining Bud Dupree in 2015 and Josh Allen in 2019.
Continuing our 2021 Kentucky NFL Draft Recap we look at another Cat who fits in well in his new home.
Bossman In Big D
Going into the draft Kelvin Joseph was considered a second-round pick who could sneak up to the first. As it turned out those round two projections were right as “Bossman Fat” went to Dallas with the 44th pick. As part of the new defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn’s emphasis on drafting defense Joseph was one of six straight players taken on that side of the ball.
One of the Cowboys’ biggest needs was a cornerback and the former UK player has a great chance to play from day one. He’s a physical, athletic corner with a knack for making big plays. If he plays like he did the last half of the season for Kentucky before opting out then the sky’s the limit.
Moving on with our 2021 Kentucky NFL Draft Review we look at the other four Cats who heard their names called.
Achieving Their Dreams
After a busy first two rounds, it would be four more before any names were called. However, when they did it came quickly. Defensive lineman Quinton Bohanna joined Joseph in Dallas with the 192nd pick. At six-foot-four-inches and 330 pounds, Bohanna has the size NFL coaches love. But if there’s one drawback the Cowboys also picked UCLA’s Osa Odighizuwa in the third round who wowed scouts at the Senior Bowl. Fortunately for Bohanna, he’s great against the run and Dallas was the worst in the NFL in 2020.
Eight picks later defensive back Brandin Echols went at 200 to the New York Jets. His impressive pro day vaulted him up many of the mock drafts leading to his selections. As a negative New York chose four cornerbacks and a safety before Echols. On the positive side, the Jets are basically starting over and there’s plenty of opportunities.
Offensive tackle Landon Young went at pick number 206 to the New Orleans Saints. Sean Payton’s club is pretty well set at tackle with Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk on each side. The Lexington native should have time to develop down in the “Big Easy.”
The final Cat taken in the 2021 NFL Draft was Phil Hoskins, who went to the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round with pick 232. Some were surprised when Hoskins was chosen however he’s another player who should have time to develop for new coach Matt Rhule.
Wrapping up our 2021 Kentucky NFL Draft Preview is a look at the Wildcats who signed free agent deals.
Two Draft Day Surprises
Heading into draft day center Drake Jackson was on everyone’s mock lists as anywhere from a 5th-7th round pick. That would have made him the first Kentucky center picked since Dermontti Dawson went to Pittsburgh in the second round of the 1988 draft. However, Jackson went unselected and ended up signing a free-agent deal with the Detroit Lions.
He’s the third lineman going to the Motor City in the last few years. Larry Warford was a three-time Pro Bowler after being a third-round pick in 2013. In addition, Logan Stenberg went in the fourth round of last year’s draft. People point to Jackson’s lack of size but he’s proven doubters wrong his whole career and will likely do it again.
Another surprising former Cat not drafted was punter Max Duffy. The Ray Guy Award winner for best punter seemed a lock for a team like Cleveland. However it did not materialize and as of this writing, Duffy hasn’t signed with anyone. The Toronto Argonauts of the CFL took him, though it’s doubtful he heads north.
Two other Cats signing free-agent deals were A.J. Rose with Minnesota and Jamar “Boogie” Watson with Pittsburgh. A third Cat, defensive lineman T.J. Carter also signed with the Steelers. In Carter’s case, he actually inked a deal on April 9th following his pro day workout.
A Big Step For Kentucky
Once again the Wildcats set a school modern draft record with six players chosen. Putting it in perspective Kentucky had more players drafted than Clemson, Miami, and Oklahoma. It’s another step in the “recruit and develop” motto Stoops and his staff uses as a pitch to future recruits. Kentucky should have another productive draft in 2022 headed by offensive lineman Darian Kinnard. He would have been a second or third-round pick this year but opted to return in hopes of becoming a first-rounder.
Thanks for checking out our 2021 Kentucky NFL Draft Recap here at Last Word On College Football. Speaking of recruiting next time we’ll take a look at the Wildcats’ 2022 class which currently ranks in the top 10 nationally.