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2024 Kentucky NFL Draft Preview

2024 Kentucky NFL Draft Preview

Another Big Weekend On The Horizon?

Over the last five years, the Kentucky football team has had 22 players chosen in the NFL Draft. That comes on the heels of no one being selected in 2017-2018. Last year all the talk centered on quarterback Will Levis and whether he’d be a first-round pick. As it turned out he went to the Tennessee Titans in the second round. While it’s unlikely any Kentucky player goes it the first round, days two and three should be big ones. In this year’s draft, most of the early focus should be on the defensive side of the ball. However, that doesn’t mean guys from the offense won’t be picked. Let’s look at where former Cats could go with our 2024 Kentucky NFL Draft Preview.

Keeping The Pipeline Going

When cornerback Andru Phillips declared for the draft, it surprised many. After all his stats were good, but not outstanding. In his final year in Lexington Phillips was seventh on the team with 47 tackles including 1.5 for a loss.

However, he bet on himself and it paid off. He followed a strong showing at the Senior Bowl with an impressive display at the NFL Combine. Phillips ran a 4.48 40-yard dash while his 11-foot, 3-inch broad jump ranked second among all cornerbacks in Indianapolis. His 42-inch vertical jump ranked third at the position.

Phillips going in the second round looks like a great possibility. Buffalo, Jacksonville, Denver, and Kansas City are all teams that have been mentioned as a possible landing spot. When he is picked Phillips will be the fourth cornerback chosen since Brad White became defensive coordinator in 2019. Furthermore, he’ll be the second straight pick for defensive backs coach Chris Collins. Carrington Valentine went to Green Bay in the seventh round last year and ended up having a great rookie season.

Continuing our 2024 Kentucky NFL Draft Preview let’s look at the next guy likely off the board.

A Second Early Entry

If for some reason Phillips isn’t the first Cat picked then likely it’s Trevin Wallace. The Georgia native declared for the draft after three great seasons in Lexington. A letter winner each year, Wallace played in 36 games with 19 starts. A season ago he finished second on the team with 80 tackles, 8.5 for a loss, and 5.5 sacks. During his Kentucky career, he made 166 tackles with 18 for a loss. He also had 10 sacks and three interceptions.

Much like his former teammate Wallace showcased his athleticism at the combine. The Kentucky linebacker clocked a 4.51 40-yard dash, posted a 37.5-inch vertical and a 10-foot, seven-inch broad jump.

Wallace’s projections fall anywhere from the second to the fourth round. The NFL Network has him going 50th to Seattle while Athlon Sports sends him to Baltimore with the 113th pick. Another team that could have interest is Green Bay, who needs help at linebacker.

Finishing up our 2024 Kentucky NFL Draft Preview let’s look at more players hoping to hear their name called.

Three For The Offense

We’ve talked about defense with the Wildcats, now let’s flip to the other side of the ball. There’s three guys on offense who could be late-round steals. First on the list is running back Ray Davis. After transferring from Vanderbilt Davis made his one year at Kentucky memorable with 1,129 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 33 passes for 323 yards and seven scores. His 21 total touchdowns set a single-season school record.

He became the 11th player in school history to reach 1,000 rushing yards in a single season and his seven receiving touchdowns are the most by a running back in school history. His 126 points also were a single-season record.

Davis’ draft projections all seem to land around the fourth round. The Sporting News has him going to Philadelphia with the 120th pick. Pro Football Focus lands him in with the Houston Texans at pick 123.

The marriage of quarterback Devin Leary and then offensive coordinator Liam Coen didn’t quite turn out to be what the BBN hoped for. However, the fault was not all on him as the offensive line was wildly inconsistent and the receivers had issues all year with dropped balls. Even so Leary threw for 2,746 yards and 25 touchdowns. The latter put him second in the SEC. Unfortunately. his 12 interceptions also led the league.

He also had a good combine increasing his draft potential. One possible landing spot for Leary is Tampa Bay, which the Sporting News has him going to in the sixth round at pick 220. That of course would reunite him with Coen, backing up Baker Mayfield.

Wide receiver Tayvion Robinson’s great special teams abilities, especially as a punt returner, could land him a final-round selection. Robinson was third on the squad last season with 43 receptions and second with 552 receiving yards.

Two other Wildcats, tight end Brenden Bates and offensive lineman Jeremy Flax, could be seventh-round picks. Most likely they’ll be priority free agents.

Final Thoughts

Should five Wildcats get drafted it will be the third time in the last six years that many players get taken. Before that, you have to go back to 1979 for the last time five Kentucky players were chosen. Of course back then the draft was 12 rounds. Again it shows the remarkable job Mark Stoops has done building the program.

Thanks for checking out our 2024 Kentucky NFL Draft Preview here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back after the draft for a complete wrap-up.

 

2024 Kentucky NFL Draft Preview
Photo courtesy: Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union

 

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