When assessing NFL prospects, most talent evaluators tend to hone in on household names from Southeastern Conference powerhouses like Alabama, LSU or Georgia, first. Those schools are typically loaded with blue chip talent and perennially in contention for a national title every year.
Further down on the SEC power rankings are the Kentucky Wildcats, a team that aside from a 10-3 season in 2018, has largely been a middling program over the years. The program has a chance to continue it’s streak of success this season, as the Wildcats currently roster several players poised for NFL stardom.
Let’s take a look at some of the top Wildcats heading into the 2020 NFL Draft.
Logan Stenberg, OG
The 6-foot-6, 322-pound mauler opted to return to school for his senior season. Stenberg started all 26 games over the past two seasons, paving the way for record-setting running back Benny Snell Jr., who eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing barrier in three consecutive seasons.
The 2019 Sporting News preseason All-American projects as an instant plug-and-play starter at the next level. His lateral agility and nimble footwork enables him to get to the second level of the defense in a hurry — and once he gets his hands on a defender — they typically stick like Velcro. The academic All-American will also bring an astute football IQ to an NFL huddle. He has a chance to boost himself into early-round consideration with another season of stellar production and consistency.
Quinton Bohanna, DT
At 6-foot-4, 361 pounds, Bohanna is the heartbeat of the Wildcats defense. The burly nose tackle started 7 of the 12 games he appeared in last season, notching 17 tackles, 1 sack, 4 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Though his stat lines typically won’t jump off the page, Bohanna acts as a space-eater in the middle of the defensive line, occupying blockers so that teammates can converge and make the play. He’s also proven to be extremely effective in defending the run. While he’s just a junior, a strong season could entice the tantalizing prospect to enter the 2020 NFL Draft, where scouts are likely to become instanltly enamored with his size. He’ll likely never be more than a two-down defender at the next level, but his physical ability could conceivably propel him into mid-round conversation.
A comparable prospect would be former Alabama alum Terrence Cody.
Lynn Bowden Jr., WR
If he stays on his current trajectory, the rising junior could decide to forgo his final season and enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
With Snell onto the NFL, the 6-foot-1, 198-pound Bowden has become the face of the Wildcats offense. A season ago, Bowden started in 12 of 13 games, leading the team with 67 catches, 745 yards, and 5 touchdown receptions. He posed a threat in the slot and along the perimeter, and demonstrated the ability to come up with contested catches and attack the catch point. In fact, his 67 catches became a new school record by a sophomore. His catch total was only bested by current Dallas Cowboys receiver Randall Cobb, who amassed 84 in 2010.
Though it’s essentially a long shot that Bowden enters the 2020 NFL Draft, a draft top-heavy at the wide receiver position, it’s certainly not out of the question. If the lengthy wideout can produce a season similar to the one from a season ago, he’ll demonstrate consistency, versatility, and most importantly, the ability to produce as the top pass catcher.
Kash Daniel, LB
The Wildcats’ defensive signal-caller, Daniel is likely to be the program’s highest drafted player in April.
A 2018 team captain, Daniel started 12 of 13 games last season. Despite playing through a broken hand, the 6-foot-1, 221-pound prospect racked up 84 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. Daniel’s junior accolades included three games with double digit tackles, and ranking 24th in the SEC in tackles per game (6.3).
Severely undersized for an NFL middle linebacker, Daniel will likely be forced to transition to the weakside at the next level. On the weakside, Daniel will be able to primarily focus on reading and reacting, and won’t have to take on as many offensive linemen head-on. He is currently projected to be a mid-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.