By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8
I’m one of those people who tends to put college athletic programs into buckets based on which sport they are really good at or known for. To me, Kentucky has always been a “Basketball School.” And for good reason, right?
However, this year’s NFL Scouting Combine has given me a new appreciation for what’s going on with their football program.
They finished last season with an impressive 10-3 record and have eight players participating in Combine activities, including a player who may be the top Edge Rusher in this year’s draft, Josh Allen.
EDGE Josh Allen entered the combine with an NFL Scout grade of 6.7, which means he’s predicted to be a pro-bowl caliber player. With a 40-yard dash time of 4.63u, 28 reps on the bench press and a 118″ broad jump, you can see why. But for me, it was the 7.15 on the three-cone drill and 4.23 on the 20-yard shuttle that speaks more to his on-the-field talent.
The winner of the Bednarik Award and the Nagurski Trophy, this defensive talent notched 88 tackles last season and was ranked second in sacks (17) and forced fumbles (5). His sweet spot would be as a 3-4 rush linebacker as he can defend both the run or the pass. He might need to “toughen up” a bit as he doesn’t impose his will at the point of attack, but that is definitely something he will improve on in the NFL.
UK safety Mike Edwards praises former teammate Josh Allen, called him “the best player in the country.”
Edwards did, however, follow that up with:
“He ugly, though.” pic.twitter.com/bpW5ofVGwP
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) March 3, 2019
CB Lonnie Johnson, Jr. was graded as 5.8 meaning he could become an NFL starter. His stats from today came in as 4.52u for the 40-yard dash, 15 bench press reps, 38″ on the vertical jump and 129″ on the broad jump.
At 6’2″ and 213 lbs, he had 23 tackles but just one interception in 2018. He’s got the size but lacks the consistency NFL teams look for, however, in the right scheme, he could excel. He’s got excellent foot-work as scouts say he’s “fluid in lateral transitions.” He may start off with more time on special teams as he is a dangerous kick blocker when coming around the edge.
S Mike Edwards has the potential to become an NFL starter with a pre-combine grade of 5.6. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native wasn’t able to compete in the workouts due to a broken thumb.
Game tape alone should be enough to show teams what Edwards has to offer. He plays with aggression and discipline, is able to track the quarterback’s eyes and grabbed ten interceptions to go with his great ball-swatting skills and pass breakups.
RB Benny Snell, Jr. will most likely start his career as a backup or perhaps special teams player. His 40-yard dash time of 4.66u belies the skill he exhibited in the three-cone drill (7.07) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.33).
Snell rushed for over 4.000 yards over the last two seasons. His early success of 1,300+ yards and 13 touchdowns in his first two years put him on par with SEC legends Herschel Walker and Knowshon Moreno. He leaves Kentucky as their all-time leading rusher.
S Darius West while his grade of 5.13 gives him better than average chance to make an NFL roster, his numbers today should improve his chances. A blazing 4.40u time in the 40-yard dash, 19 bench press reps and a broad jump of 113″ tells me that this guy is still working.
A natural leader in the locker room, West can play both high or low safety. He’s shown adequate ability to track the ball and is better at dislodging it from a receiver or breaking up the pass altogether.
— KY Clips™️ (@KY_Clips) March 4, 2019
CB Derrick Baity while he didn’t run the 40, his 127″ broad jump was amazing. As a junior, he led the team with nine pass breakups, two interceptions. His senior year, he recorded 38 tackles with three being for a loss, had an interception and seven pass breakups.
While he has great height and weight, his arms are a bit short and he seems to struggle at times to get takeaways. He’s perfect for a team looking for reliable depth, plus he can cover man-to-man and has been known to put a tough hit on receivers.
LB Jordan Jones came to the combine hoping to prove he should be on an NFL roster. His measurements include 4.62u for the 40-yard dash, 23 reps on the bench press and 123″ for the broad jump speak to his strength and agility. His 20 yard shuttle time of 4.37 ain’t too shabby either.
He was credited with 68 tackles (5.5 for loss), 1.5 sacks, and four pass breakups for the 2018 season. His agility and speed have been used to great advantage, but he needs to put on a little weight and stop being a “headache” for the coaches as his behavior has been called “out of control” at times.
Jordan Jones spoke today at the NFL Combine about missing the Citrus Bowl due to academic issues. pic.twitter.com/UA2gtVaZKo
— Lee K. Howard (@HowardWKYT) March 2, 2019
TE C.J. Conrad was unfortunately sent home early from the Combine. He was not cleared by doctors after they discovered a possible heart issue. He went back to Lexington for further evaluation. He has never had an issue like this in his career, so I’m hopeful this is not a career-ending problem.
Regarded as one of the top five tight ends in the draft, Conrad is the blocking machine teams look for. At 6’4″ and 249 lbs, he definitely has the size need to play TE. With an 81% completion stat last year and great ball security stats, he can catch. However, he was most effective as a run-blocker. The team that takes a chance on him could coach-him-up on his deficiencies.
Talk football and the Combine with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8