The NFL draft kicks off tonight and will continue through the weekend. Kentucky has a couple of players that might be drafted, but most of the Wildcats’ graduating seniors are probably headed for the free agent market. While most would prefer to be drafted, this may actually benefit them. History shows us that a player drafted in the fifth round or later has only a slightly better chance to make an NFL roster than an undrafted free agent and the past seasons NFL rosters were loaded with guys that were picked up post-draft. Here’s a breakdown of Kentucky’s seniors that are hoping to extend their football careers…
There probably has not been a more universally loved defensive player for Kentucky since Jeff Snedegar. Danny came into Lexington as a two-star recruit that made waves as soon as he set foot on campus and never stopped until the final game of his senior season. The problem Trevathan will face though, is that he is a victim of circumstance. He’s a little undersized for a 4-3 defensive scheme, but has shown the ability to play at a high level against top competition despite his size. A high motor, excellent speed, and a nose for the ball make him an ideal fit for the weak-side linebacker in the Tampa-2 style of defense. That said, his lack of bulk makes him a poor fit for the 3-4 defense. The drastic increase of teams utilizing the 3-4 scheme over the past few years has left Trevathan with very few places that fit his abilities. Based on production, Danny is a first or second round pick. Unfortunately, the limited market for him will hurt his stock enough to drop him to the lower rounds or possibly even to being undrafted. Regardless though, you have to feel like Danny will find a home and eventually stick on a roster. He’s just too talented and proven not to.
I’m intrigued to see what happens with Guy. He showed that a change in scheme was all he needed to go from the fanbase’s favorite whipping boy to being a fan favorite and having one of the most productive seasons by a defensive player in recent memory. His ability to play the safety/linebacker hybrid position gave him the ability to capitalize on his abilities and have a monster season. The downside though, is that it’s a tough call to say if he is an outside linebacker or safety at the next level. Guy struggled in pass coverage as a defensive back in his first three years at Kentucky, so that may scare some teams off. On the flip-side, he also does not have the ideal size teams want in an outside linebacker and is a horrible fit as a linebacker in a traditional 3-4 defense. Where Winston provides exceptional value, is as a player in a team’s nickel package. He can play as a fifth defensive back in a role of a LB/DB that will allow teams to better cover the pass, keep a sure tackler on the field, and really give his team some versatility with their looks. Guy is not a lock to be drafted, but I would be pretty surprised if someone isn’t willing to take a chance on him.
Offensive Guard isn’t a luxurious position, but there are two of them starting for every NFL team. Hines performed at a high level for several years at Kentucky and has proven he has what it takes to play in the NFL if he decides to do so. With several teams needing depth along the interior offensive line, Hines can make a roster or practice squad if he falls into the right situation. It is unlikely (but not impossible) that Hines is drafted.
Much like Hines, Burden is a long-shot to be drafted this weekend. He moved from defensive end to left tackle after his sophomore season and really hasn’t had enough time to prove his worth to an NFL team. That said, Burden is a very versatile big guy that can find a home in the NFL. Some teams like the Patriots like to target players that can do multiple things well and one of them might pick him up in free agency as a project.
There is almost no chance Lanefski will be drafted. Despite being a valuable asset to Kentucky’s offensive line, he was never able to hold down a full-time starting job.
Billy Joe Murphy
There’s a chance that Murphy is invited to team’s camp, but I would seriously doubt he’ll be drafted.
Melillo had his moments at UK, but he is a long-shot to make a team’s practice squad, much less be drafted. He is just a little bit too small to be an effective tight end in the NFL.
I would be shocked if Roark is drafted, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is invited to a team’s training camp. While receivers that struggle to catch the ball are rarely a hot commodity, Roark is a football player (as evidenced against Tennessee). He could be brought in as a big receiver and be utilized on special teams if everything falls just right.
No player went through more off-the-field problems that Crawford did and stayed on the team. I’m sure NFL teams will be concerned with his character, but he was effective when he spent his time on the playing field and out of the coaching staff’s doghouse. Defensive tackles are always a premium position, so there’s a chance Crawford is picked up as a free agent.
As much as we all love Luke and his ability to overcome adversity, he doesn’t have much of a chance to make it in the NFL.
Glenn never played much for UK, so playing in the NFL would be a unlikely scenario.
I actually think Ronnie could make it as an undrafted free agent. He’s tough as nails and managed to fill in at middle linebacker without ideal size for the position in the SEC. He might only play special teams if he makes a roster, but it’s not out of the question for a team to invite him to camp.
Smith was never able to be more than a role player at UK and the most he could hope for is a camp invite as an unrestricted free agent.
Despite having his struggles, Burden was a three year starter in the SEC. If he were to be drafted it would be a shocker, but a camp invite is not out of the question and he might stick to a practice squad with so many teams needing multiple corners.
Much like Randall Burden, Mosley was a serviceable starter in the nation’s best conference. He is also a converted wide receiver and a team might invite him to camp as a project.
Not very many punters will be drafted, but Tydlacka has a chance to be a late round pickup. He’s got a big leg, he’s got accuracy, and he was one of the SEC’s best punters over the past few years. Even if he isn’t drafted, I’d be shocked if he doesn’t make a team’s roster.