Corey Peters - DT - Atlanta Falcons
Corey Peters - DT - Atlanta Falcons

How will Kentucky's recent additions to the NFL fit in with their new teams?


By Kyle

Corey Peters – DT – Atlanta Falcons
Many members of the national media were surprised when Peters was taken in the third round, but anyone who watched him play throughout his career at Kentucky knew the Falcons got a steal. Peters was able to play at an elite level against any opponent and was the most consistent defensive presence for a unit that had several injuries to key players over the last four years. He will be able to step right into the rotation for the Falcons and should be contributing heavily by midseason because of the experience he gained by playing the best teams in the country each week in the SEC. The Falcons have quite a few Defensive Tackles on the roster, but only a couple of them are locks to make the roster and teams don’t typically draft a player with their third round pick if they plan on cutting him later. Expect Peters to contribute early in his career, but keep in mind that it takes longer for Defensive Linemen to have an impact in the NFL than it does other positions. By year three, he should be starting.

Trevard Lindley – CB – Philadelphia Eagles
Most fans could agree that Lindley was no worse than a third round talent throughout his career and if it were not for a string of injuries over his junior and senior seasons, he could have very well been a first round player. Lindley finds himself in the city of brotherly love, where the Eagles have a long history of blitz-happy defenses. Defensive backs in Philadelphia typically understand that they are going to be on their own islands often and Lindley better get used to the idea. The reason it’s easy to see him be successful is the experience he has gotten playing against Percy Harvin, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and other NFL bound receiver. He’ll need to hit the ground running but if he can stay healthy, he should be no worse than the 4th or 5th Cornerback on the roster.

John Conner – FB – New York Jets
I think if most Kentucky fans had to pick one player off the team that was a sure-fire success at the NFL level that it would have been Conner. The Fullback isn’t as involved in most offenses as it used to be, but one of the few teams to consistently use a Fullback in their offense landed Conner. As soon as the Jets brought in Coach Rex Ryan, there was little doubt that the team would refocus on an aggressive defensive strategy and establishing a power running game. The addition of Conner allows the Jets to continue to utilize their running game as the focal point of their offense which in turn will allow them to take pressure off of their young Quarterback. Conner landed in one of the top places for him to be able to do what he does best and there’s little doubt that he’ll have an impact early in his career.

Alfonso Smith – RB – Arizona Cardinals
When the season ended, the possibility of Smith getting drafted seemed extremely unlikely. He sustained multiple injuries throughout his career and never quite made an impact as a runner. Then the opportunity for Smith to show off his blazing speed came and all of the sudden his name came up as a possible late round selection n the draft. Obviously there was plenty of interest, and Smith was one of the first players picked up as an undrafted free agent. Smith will provide speed to a backfield in Arizona that is heavy with power runners, but he should make his biggest impact on the return teams.

Zipp Duncan – OG – Philadelphia Eagles
If there’s a Kentucky player that has ever changed positions more than Zipp Duncan, I am not aware of it. From Defensive End to Tight End, Guard to Takle, he’s been all over the place and has found a home in the NFL as a Guard. Duncan is in great shape with the Eagles despite being an undrafted free agent because they did not draft an Offensive Lineman through all seven rounds of the draft. With several older players at the Guard position, it’s hard to see the Eagles letting him go.

Sam Maxwell – OLB – New Orleans Saints
He somehow went from a name only diehard Kentucky football fans knew to a star in only one season. After playing situationally for his entire career, Sam Maxwell made the most of his senior season, and made a name for himself by grabbing more interceptions than any other linebacker in the country. Possibly because of injury, or possibly because of a lack of playing history, he went undrafted and was not immediately signed by a team. The Bengals brought him in for a tryout but he left without a contract. Then the Saints brought him in and signed him to the roster. Because of his versatility and ability to play any one of the three linebacker positions and his ability to contribute on special teams, he should have little trouble making the roster. At the very least, he could provide a serviceable practice squad player.

Micah Johnson – MLB – New York Giants
Johnson came to Kentucky as one of the highest rated prospects in the history of the football team. Some services listed him as a Linebacker and some considered him a Defensive End, but he stuck at Middle Linebacker and finished his career there. He suprisingly went undrafted, but was offered a contract by the Giants after a tryout. Micah will provide a big presence in the middle of the defense and
provide an immediate option for the defense as a run-stopper. He will have to work on his pass rushing attack, but showed flashes of what he’s capable of while at Kentucky. His best asset to the team will be his ability to contibute on special teams immediately and to provide help in goal line situations.

Justin Jeffries – OT – San Diego Chargers
A lot of people were surprised by how quickly Jeffires was picked up after the draft concluded. While at Kentucky, he had a solid-but-unspectacular career and was a “lunch pail” type of player that contributed heavily to Kentucky’s successful rushing attack. He doesn’t have the agility to play on the left side, but can provide the Chargers a capable option at Tackle or at either Guard position. Expect Jeffries to land on the active roster as a player that can provide a serviceable backup to several Offensive line positions. He should still be a practice squad player in the worst case scenario.

T.C. Drake – TE – Kansas City Chiefs
The possibility of Drake being drafted wasn’t even on the radar for most fans. He provided a solid backup option to Jacob Tamme before taking over as a part time starter, but he struggled to hold off other Tight Ends on the roster from week to week. It’s clear that Drake has plenty of upside. He’s got a pro body and measurable, but the Chiefs will have to work to help him unlock his abilities if they hope to keep him on the roster. Drake may be kept as a special teams contributor where his size/speed combo could allow the Chiefs to carry an extra offensive skill player instead of an extra Linebacker or Defensive back.

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