Darian Kinnard, Chris Rodriguez make Mel Kiper's 2022 NFL Draft Position Rankings
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. updated his 2022 NFL Draft rankings today and two Kentucky Wildcats are among the top ten prospects in their position groups. Darian Kinnard is seventh on Kiper’s list of offensive tackles, while Chris Rodriguez is tied for tenth on the list of running backs with Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker II.
Kinnard could have entered the 2020 NFL Draft but returned to Kentucky for his senior season. During the draft evaluation process, Kinnard received a day two grade meaning he was projected to be either a second or third-round selection. Thus far, he’s following through on his mission to improve his draft stock. According to Pro Football Focus, he is the only offensive tackle in the country with a grade of 85 or higher in run and pass-blocking.
Rodriguez, a junior, leads the SEC and ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game (130.5); however, Kiper puts two other backs from the league in front of him: Texas A&M’s Isaiah Spiller (No. 2) and Georgia’s Zamir White (No. 8). Iowa State’s Breece Hall is No. 1.
Yesterday, Rivals’ Mike Farrell wrote that Rodriguez is more important to his team than any player in the country. On the SEC Teleconference, Mark Stoops bragged on his star running back — after telling reporters he needs to cut down on the fumbles.
“He’s doing what he always does,” Stoops said of Rodriguez. “He’s one of those backs that’s always going forward. Very few negative yardage plays with him. He has very good strength and balance and vision and is generally going forward. We’ve seen it for a long time and he’s just continuing to do what he does and that’s make tough yards.”
Let’s celebrate both Kinnard and Rodriguez with some highlights.