This weekend saw the Tennessee Titans draft Avery Williamson in the fifth round of the NFL draft. Big Blue Nation rejoiced for Williamson, a fan favorite, in realizing his NFL dreams for his favorite team. Many others lamented that it was too late for a productive, talented player who will be a great locker room presence to have. Either way, Avery is stepping into a great situation to once again prove that Kentucky linebackers translate well to the pros. He has former Cat Wesley Woodyard to help guide him. Following the draft Kentucky’s defensive tackle duo signed free agent deals with Donte Rumph joining Corey Peters in Atlanta and Mister Cobble becoming the latest Wildcat turned Bronco.
It wasn’t the best year for Kentucky generating pro prospects but expect that to change sooner than later. As Kentucky’s roster improves, so will the number of players that fans see enter the league. With improved results on the field, UK could see some during the next draft.
Bud Dupree DE/LB- Dupree is already being ranked as one of the Top 100 draft prospects for next season, meaning he would likely go by the fourth round. That doesn’t factor in underclassmen who declare early however and Dupree may very well have his best season yet in 2014. His draft prospects probably depend on if teams view him as a 4-3 end or an outside linebacker in a 3-4. Working in his advantage is the fact that he is very likely to impress teams with his measurables.
Zadarius Smith DE- Big Z thought about going pro this year but decided to return for his senior season. It was the right choice, it wasn’t clear that he would have been drafted this year, another season to mature will likely move him to at least Day 3 of the draft. That’s just with a second season of similar production, if Zadarius improves on last years numbers he can really improve his stock. Especially with more production in league play.
Darrian Miller LT- Miller has been a pro prospect for three years. He has all of the tools you want in an NFL tackle and should have a bounceback year after looking bad a few times in 2013. At times you could see him get frustrated with a new center making the wrong line calls. He projects as an above average swing tackle at the pro level, with starting potential on the right side. Think of Tampa Bay Buc Anthony Collins, Miller could be a late blooming star. Rounds four or five could be his sweet spot.
Nate Willis CB- Willis came to Lexington saying that he was going to be one and done, but a late start and nagging injuries hampered his junior season. Now he is dealing with sports hernia surgery and may miss Fall camp. One of the top JUCO corners in the country coming in, Willis really needs the reps and the recent injury is a setback for him. However he does possess the talent to be an All-SEC performer if he can stay healthy and studies hard. He showed flashes of that ability last season. If Willis regains his starting position and has a decent year, he could go in rounds six or seven.
Javess Blue WR- This is an interesting situation. Blue had a good first year in Lexington and JUCO receivers typically improve greatly from year one to year two with their new team. However, Javess is recovering from shoulder surgery and the Wildcats will have a much deeper receiving core than last season. So his production in 2014 could be all over the board. He very well may lose his return man job as well to save his problematic shoulder. It’s a hard projection to make but Blue has potential as a sixth or seventh round draft choice who offers return value.