Kentucky Wildcats Football: Stoops Could Get Comfortable at NFL Draft

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Dec 2, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops walks into a press conference to be introduced as the new football coach at the University of Kentucky in the Nutter Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA Today Sports

Starting tomorrow night new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops will take a few days off from the recruiting trail to spend some time in New York. Except he isn’t really taking time off from recruiting. Stoops plans on attending the 2013 NFL Draft to support his former players from Florida State and likely former Wildcats Larry Warford and Matt Smith. With as many as three players expected to go in the prestigious first round, Stoops figures to get some airtime and likely some good publicity from the commentators.

No secret has been made of the transformation that Stoops created with Florida State’s defense, taking it from #102 in the country to the top defense in the country (or the #3 defense depending on which rating you use).  This with players he hadn’t recruited and had to coach up in his defense. Admittedly, FSU has hardly struggled to land talented players, even when the on-field results were lacking. Still, only one defender from Stoops’ inaugural season was drafted. Defensive end Markus White was taken in the seventh round.

The second season in Tallahassee showed improvement. Not only did the ‘Noles defense perform better as a whole, but the number of players drafted doubled. Linebacker Nigel Bradham was taken in the fourth round by Buffalo and played in all 16 games as a rookie, starting 11. He will be a key part of their defense going forward. Defensive back Mike Harris was drafted in the sixth round by the Jaguars after only being a starter for one season. He played in 15 games last season and started 6.

Tomorrow night defensive back Xavier Rhodes and defensive end Bjoern Werner will almost certainly be picked in the first round.  Defensive end Cornelius “Tank” Carradine likely will as well after his pre-draft workout showed progress from his injury. Defensive end/outside linebacker Brandon Jenkins missed the season with a Lisfranc injury. He has been projected all over the draft but was considered a first or second round prospect pre-injury.

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