While their quarterback is grabbing all the attention, there are some other intriguing Kentucky NFL Draft prospects for 2023. Let’s take a look at the Kentucky scouting reports with as many as three to five players potentially set to be selected in Kansas City.
Kentucky 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Reports
Carrington Valentine, CB
Strengths: Nice-sized corner with a developing game and a large upside. Fluid pedaling in reverse, stays with receivers downfield, and correctly positions himself to defend the throw. Tracks the pass in the air, has a burst to the ball, and effectively times pass defenses. Feisty, doesn’t back down from a challenge, and mixes it up with receivers. Displays good recognition in zone, works hard, and gives effort defending the run.
Weaknesses: Has a thin build and struggles in battles. Overpursues the action moving upfield. Totaled just one interception the past two seasons.
Overall: Valentine is a long corner who shows solid ball skills and has progressed on the field. He possesses enough ability to line up in nickel packages at the next level and should only improve as he physically matures.
Want more information on Valentine? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Carrington Valentine, CB, Kentucky | NFL Draft Scouting Report
Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB
Strengths: Large, punishing ball carrier who displays solid agility and quickness for a bigger back. Displays terrific running vision, finds the open lanes, and runs with authority. Has a punishing style, drives his shoulders through defenders, and carries the pile for many yards.
Outstanding short-yardage ball carrier who falls forward when tackled. Keeps his feet moving, works runs, and uses an effective straight arm to keep plays alive. Displays the ability to get outside the box and shows footwork in a small area. Consistently productive at Kentucky and handled a lot of carries.
Weaknesses: Not a creative ball carrier. Cannot turn the perimeter. Rarely used as a receiver out of the backfield and had 20 receptions in four years of college ball. Missed multiple games last season after being suspended for a DUI.
Overall: Rodriguez is a talented RB who will be a sensational goal-line or short-yardage runner at the next level. He’s a grinder with a punishing style, yet he also displays the versatility to get around tackle. Rodriguez is a throwback who would be able to handle 20-25 carries a game.
Want more information on Rodriguez? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Chris Rodriguez Jr., RB, Kentucky | NFL Draft Scouting Report
DeAndre Square, LB
Strengths: Safety-sized linebacker with an excellent head for the game. Stays with assignments, quickly finds the ball handler, and recognizes coverage assignments. Fluid getting to the flanks, gets depth on pass drops, and gives effort. Shows ability playing over the tight end. Sells out moving upfield to defend the run.
Weaknesses: Easily disrupted by blocks. Plays to his 40 time and lacks a burst. Not a stout tackler.
Overall: Square was a productive four-year starter for Kentucky, but he has poor speed and DB size.
Jordan Wright, LB
Strengths: Safety-sized linebacker who gets the most from his ability. Agile, moves well around the field, and is effective in pursuit. Quickly locates the ball handler, gets out to the flanks, and makes plays in space. Remains disciplined with assignments, easily changes direction, and redirects to plays. Wraps up tackling.
Weaknesses: Displays a limited burst to the action. Lacks pursuit speed. Undersized and gets handled by tight ends.
Overall: Wright was a productive college defender who may not have a true position on Sundays. He offers possibilities as a nickel LB, though Wright must stand out on special teams this summer.
Keidron Smith, CB
Strengths: Nice-sized cornerback who flashes ability. Quickly diagnoses plays, stays with receivers on crossing patterns, and remains disciplined with assignments. Smooth in reverse, stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks, and has a burst to the ball. Quickly makes his way upfield to defend running plays or screens and drives his shoulders through ball handlers.
Weaknesses: Slow to react when backed off the line of scrimmage. Easily blocked from the action. Doesn’t always wrap up tackling.
Overall: Smith flashed ability throughout his Kentucky career and did much of the same during Senior Bowl practices. He has an unpolished game but comes with an upside and has enough ability to line up in dime packages on Sundays.
Tashawn Manning, G
Strengths: Auburn transfer coming off a terrific season. Sets with a wide base, bends his knees, and sinks his butt at the line of scrimmage. Possesses a thick, wide-bodied build, gets leverage on opponents, and fires off the snap into blocks. Strong, out-positions large defensive tackles from the action, and anchors at the point. Plays with a nasty attitude and always looks for someone to hit. Explosive run blocker who opens up lanes.
Weaknesses: Ineffective pulling across the line of scrimmage or blocking in motion. Lacks balance when he tries to cover any amount of area. Struggles to adjust.
Overall: After playing uninspired football for Auburn, Manning came to Kentucky and took his game to the next level last season. He’s a powerful, wide-bodied, zone-blocking prospect who plays tough, smart football and offers starting potential in a power-gap scheme.
Will Levis, QB
Strengths: Athletic pocket passer with the size and form to lead a franchise at the next level. Patient in the pocket, buys time for receivers, and does an outstanding job commanding the offense. Possesses a quick release and easily gets rid of the ball with a flick of his wrist. Has a powerful arm and drives deep throws with speed.
Puts touch on throws when necessary. Sells ball fakes, knows where his receivers are on the field, and spreads the ball around. Easily gets the pass through the tight spots. Has great stature and easily withstands the rush. Punishing ball carrier on designed quarterback runs.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Weaknesses: Not averse to throwing the ball to covered targets or forcing throws. Very slow going to secondary targets. Doesn’t do a good job seeing the field or reading defenses. Indecisive, late delivering the ball and misses opportunities. Consistently stares down the primary target. Stiff and may be too big.
Overall: From a size, athleticism, and arm strength point of view, Levis could arguably be graded out as one of the top two quarterbacks in this year’s draft. Yet, there are many concerning fundamental red flags about his game.
Levis must improve his defensive reads, overall accuracy, and decision-making. He’s not nearly the NFL-ready QB many project him to be, and if he’s rushed into a starting lineup, the consequences could be bad. Levis needs to land with the right coach and be kept on the sidelines to absorb what’s happening on the field before lining up behind center on Sundays. He possesses tremendous upside potential, yet there is a lot of risk in his game.
Want more information on Levis? Here’s our expanded scouting report and draft profile: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky | NFL Draft Scouting Report
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