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Jim Dedmon | USA Today[/caption]
The 2016 UK Pro Day was pretty fun to cover and watch some former Wildcats fight for professional jobs in front of scouts, but it was apparent there wasn't much elite NFL potential out of any of the guys competing in the event.
With Stoops' first Kentucky recruiting class now heading into fall as seniors, we're going to start seeing the high-three and four star prospects UK has been raking in hearing their name called in the NFL Draft to play on Sundays.
Here are my top five guys with potential to make a name for themselves in the NFL:
- For a true freshman last season, Chris Westry did things that we haven't seen at UK in a LONG time. He locked down opposing #1 receiving options, and only progressed throughout the season. During the Spring Game, Westry only built upon that success by dominating everyone in his path, not allowing a single completion in his time on the field. At 6'4, he has the length to go heads up with nearly any receiving target you put in his way, and he's only getting better. This kid is a future first round draft pick, and I challenge anyone to give me a reasonable argument otherwise.
- Yeah, I know this one will rub most of you the wrong way. "How can a guy that can't even catch the ball be considered a top NFL prospect?" I understand it, but hear me out. Dorian Baker is a freak-of-nature athlete that has shown bursts of absolute brilliance in his short time here at Kentucky. With stability at quarterback with the guy he came to UK to play with in the first place, Baker's confidence will skyrocket, and he has the ability to have a breakout season and separate himself as the #1 receiver on the Kentucky roster. Baker consistently dominates throughout practices, and has even shown dominance during games, but the 6'4 receiver has to maintain some level of consistency on the big stage if he wants to start turning heads the way he has the potential to. If he can make that happen, NFL scouts will be flocking to watch Baker as a senior.
- This one is an easy one if you just take a look at today's NFL style of play with guys like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, and Delanie Walker dominating the game. They're essentially power forwards going out for passes and even the strongest, most athletic guys in the world struggle bringing them down. Conrad fits the mold of an elite NFL caliber tight end, standing 6'6, 250 lbs., he just needs the ball in his hands to prove his ability. As Nick mentioned a few days back, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelcie's statistics more than tripled in every major category when Eddie Gran got a hold of him in Cincinnati. If Gran can incorporate Conrad as a staple of the offensive attack this season similar to Kelcie, there's no way Conrad doesn't rank amongst the top tight ends in the Draft when his time comes.
Stanley "Boom" Williams
- Like Baker, this one will also probably rub some of you the wrong way. At 6'7, 360 lbs., Elam has the physical gifts to not only make it in the NFL, but thrive if he can get in shape and cut some major weight. As a nose guard, Elam statistically held his own in his time on the field by clogging the gaps and slowing down the rushers. Nonetheless, Elam only had the ability to stay on the field for two snaps at a time, which is inexcusable for a guy of his caliber. He's going to be a junior this season with a ton of weight (no pun intended) on his shoulders to anchor the defensive line, and I believe he takes a huge step up this season and becomes a huge contributor on defense. With a successful season at Kentucky, NFL scouts will have their eyes peeled on Elam heading into his senior season.
- Boom already has NFL-caliber speed and elusiveness, he just has to work on his decision making and field vision to lift himself into the top tier of elite SEC running backs as a junior this season. Williams found himself far too often running right into the backs of the offensive line, falling two yards short of the line of scrimmage, or running backwards in an attempt to outrun the opposing defense. Obviously trouble on the offensive line was a huge contributing factor in Boom getting suffocated in the backfield, but there is certainly work to be done on his end. If Boom can convert on a likely-improved offensive line, look for him to start making national headlines and find himself on the draft boards. As scary as it is, a huge season out of Boom could end his Kentucky career.
At Pro Day this year, the only real big name NFL guy in attendance was Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis.
With some of these prospects competing in the next few offseasons, look for some major star power flooding the event to see this elite Wildcat talent in person.