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NFL Draft 2011: Kentucky's Draft Prospects

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This week is all about the NFL Draft for most sports websites.  At the University of Kentucky, we rarely have many players that figure prominently in the NFL Draft, but this year is a notable exception (and hopefully the beginning of a trend).  Former UK standout Randall Cobb is expected to go in one of the first two rounds of the draft this year, and I know that we here at A Sea of Blue will be excited to see where he winds up.

Kentucky has several players who participated in either the NFL Combine or Pro Day at UK, and will be considered by NFL teams for the draft.  They include:

  1. Randall Cobb
  2. Derrick Locke
  3. Chris Matthews
  4. Mike Hartline
  5. Moncell Allen
  6. DeQuin Evans
  7. Brad Durham
  8. J.J. Helton
  9. Ricky Lumpkin
  10. Shane McCord

Of all the players listed above, Cobb, Locke, Matthews, Hartline, Evans and Lumpkin are considered "Top 500" draft-eligible players by USA Today, who has a very convenient NFL Draft information page.

Cobb is of course the top of this list at #46 overall and the 5th best receiver prospect.  Cobb projects as a slot or #2 receiver in the NFL, and his versatility and diversity of skills act to somewhat offset his lack of size and elite speed.  NFL teams love guys who can be counted on to take care of the football, catch it in traffic and hold on, run clean, crisp routes and give 100% on every play, hence his high position.

Derrick Lock follows Cobb somewhat distantly as the #152 overall prospect and the #26 running back in the draft.  Many teams may think about Locke as a slot receiver just like Cobb.  In the receiver role, Locke's slight frame would take less of a pounding, and even though his hands are not the equal of Cobb, he has elite straight-line speed and explosiveness off the line.  His negatives include size and injury issues, as well as a lack of experience catching downfield passes.

While Cobb and Locke are similar in a lot of ways, both have different strengths that project to potential success at the pro level, but neither of them would be expected to be a featured performer on a professional team.  However, just as the Tennessee Volunteers found out by ignoring Cobb until it was to late to change his mind, Cobb does not believe that his size and lack of elite speed is a handicap that cannot be overcome.  Locke, similarly, does not consider himself to be any less elite than the best players in this draft.  These guys are like two stud racehorses that only know one thing -- whoever gets to the finish line first wins.

We'll be keeping a close eye on the NFL Draft as Thursday gets nearer.  Meanwhile, I'll pose these two questions to the Big Blue Nation:

  1. Which NFL team would you like to see wind up with Randall Cobb? And;

  2. On which NFL team is Cobb likely to have the most success?

Answer in the comments below.