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2020 NFL Draft Recap: Kentucky edition

So, that was something. If you watched any sliver of the draft this weekend, then you know what I’m talking about. And to be honest, it was really cool. Due to the COVID-19 virus, the NFL Draft happened online. It literally looked like a HUGE fantasy football draft in where everyone is on a zoom call with their friends fighting for their player to make their team better. Man, Las Vegas for the draft was going to be so cool, you didn’t see? Look what the stage concept was going to look like:

Yeah, seeing Joe Burrow on a canal going to the stage would have been the best thing to happen but hey, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” That is true today. In case you missed it, NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell announced the draft will be back in Sin City in 2022. Hope the stage comes with it!

 

Ok, my thoughts have been said about the draft, now to the good stuff. After a season where the Kentucky Wildcats grab a last-second win in the Belk Bowl, the Cats going in the NFL was going to be slim no matter what. The Cats ended up with two players picked in the NFL draft. Lynn Bowden (Las Vegas Raiders, yes, Las Vegas) and Logan Stenberg (Detroit Lions.) Not only did these former Cats got picked, three others signed undrafted free-agent contracts.

 

Today, Chandler and I are going to look into what these mean for the former Cats as they now start on their journey in being professional athletes.


Lynn Bowden Jr.- Las Vegas Raiders

Photo via Twitter @UKFootball

Going throughout the draft process, the Patriots seemed the best fit for the hybrid offensive threat that Bowden has become over his three years at Kentucky. With Brady leaving, that all changed. With him, the Bowden pick seemed plausible. They could take the risk and draft Bowden and experiment him with the offense under #12. Without Brady, that didn’t become the case we all thought.

 

As time went on in Day 2 of the NFL draft, Bowden’s name was looming out there and really got people talking in how special he could be in an offense. When Goodell announced the pick, the Raiders were there at pick 80 to grab Bowden. The first of back to back picks for the Raiders. This is what it looked like from Bowden’s POV.

As the happy tears were being shed in the Bowden household, it got me thinking about why Gruden is crazy enough to make this risk so early in the draft. I highly suggest in watching last summer’s Hard Knocksif you get the chance but if you follow the NFL at all, you know from Gruden’s media appearances, he can get crazy. He loves to tinker with offensive sets like a mechanic likes to work on cars. No one knows where Bowden will play. Just in his three years, Bowden played multiple positions. From QB to WR, the hybrid of his skill is like a Christmas present for Gruden. It might not work at first but we will look back on this and see that this was a match made in Heaven.

 

Even with Gruden there, the desperate need of setting themselves apart from the pack like the Raiders do. Whenever this next season begins, the Raiders will be playing not in Oakland but in Vegas obviously. This will be the first season in their new city, new landscape. It was time for a change and with the acquisitions they made such as the former Paul Hornung Award winner Bowden, the brand new lights will shine bright in Vegas.

Just look at that stadium…

Logan Stenberg- Detroit Lions

Photo via Twitter @UKFootball

One thing was for sure, the Lions were looking to find prospects at a few key positions. One was to replace CB Darius Slay Jr., which they lost from free agency but the Lions needed to get bigger on both sides on the line. The Lions took two offensive linemen (including Stenberg) and three on the defensive side. As the Lions fight to become a contender in their division, they have to keep their QB off the ground. Per NFL.com, the Lions were ranked as the 19th best offensive line and giving up the thirteenth most sacks

Stenberg will bring much depth to their offensive line in what can be a year of improvement for the Lions.

 

Here is what Mel Kiper had to say about Stenberg on ESPN during the draft:

https://twitter.com/UKFootball/status/1254157975918456834?s=20


So, now we’ve heard my two cents on the drafted players, here is Chandler with the free agent signees.

Ahmad Wagner- Chicago Bears

Photo via Twitter @UKFootball

The former Iowa basketball player turned UK wideout signed a deal with the Chicago Bears on Saturday night after going undrafted. Whether as a wide receiver or a tight end, it is hard to imagine a player with his physical stature not getting onto the field at some point in the NFL.

 

Wagner finished the 2019 season with 15 receptions for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Much of those numbers of course came in the beginning of the season before Lynn Bowden Jr. took over at QB.

 

With his physical stature, he drew many pass interference calls, one in which famously gave UK the untimed down that won the Missouri game in 2018, but he also showed a sensational catch radius. Maybe his most famous catch came against Florida this past season.

Calvin Taylor Jr.- Pittsburgh Steelers

Photo Via Twitter @UKFootball

The 6-foot-9 defensive end now joins former UK linebacker Bud Dupree on the Steelers defense. Taylor is maybe the best developing job that the Mark Stoops staff has done so far at UK. He came in as a 2-star recruit (or in some cases no-star) with no offers, and by the end became a force on the defensive line. Taylor finished this past season second in sacks with nine total. His blossom led to this opportunity of signing with Pittsburgh.

TJ Carter- Arizona Cardinals

Photo via Twitter @UKFootball

Carter was not as eye-popping on the field to spectators in the stands, but he was rock solid on a formidable UK defensive front. He was a contributor every season as a Wildcat, finishing this past season with 26 total tackles and two sacks.

“I’m undrafted and I love it. I faced a lot of adversity last year but it prepared me for what needs to get done. My fire is even bigger and i can’t wait to get down to@AZCardinals!!” Carter said on Twitter, confirming that he is joining the Cardinals.


So, to end the post I just want to express congratulations to all that were drafted and getting their opportunity in the League. Also, I am speaking for the both of us, Chandler and I want to say that for your second contract, consider Indianapolis. Please, for my sanity.

 

By the way, the SEC… goodness.

I hope everyone is staying safe through these times. I know for me this weekend with the draft was a breath of fresh air. Hope it was for you.

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